If you’re a woman, you likely are very aware that women in professional workplaces inevitably encounter barriers, boundaries and obstacles. There are glass ceilings, communication barriers, walls and divides keeping women from reaching the professional successes they want. There is a very narrow path women must follow if they want to get ahead. You can’t be too assertive for fear of being labeled a bitch; you can’t be too passive for fear of being called weak. You’re definitely not one of the “good ol’ boys” and though there isn’t a sign, you’re pretty sure “No Girls Allowed” is the unspoken policy. So, what do you do? Do you conform and walk the narrow path and see how far that takes you? Is it possible to be yourself and be successful professionally as a woman?
I was recently at a gathering of highly educated and successful women for a professional development retreat and one of the participants asked this very question – Is it possible to be yourself and be successful professionally as a woman? Is there room in the traditional workplace for women to be authentic women? There was a long silence followed by no real answer.
Is this you? Are you like the participant above? Do you feel stuck – like you’re endlessly trying to get ahead? Are you tired of the resistance you encounter as you climb the corporate ladder or navigate the career jungle gym? Are you wondering whether you’ll ever be able to just be yourself? Are you waiting for the answer?
Well, here’s my answer. I believe there absolutely is room for you to be yourself and be the successful professional you want to be. And, I don’t believe you have to be at a company like Google or Facebook for it to happen – though being a part of a progressive, supportive company certainly helps. I know this without doubt because I’ve done it and I have helped other women to do it.
One person told me, as a blind woman, the best I could hope for was to be a vender selling candy bars and newspapers in the lobby of the courthouse. But deep down, I knew I wanted more – whether I was actually capable of more, I didn’t know for sure at that point – I thought maybe they were right. Maybe all there was for me was selling dry goods. But, I still wanted more. I wanted it so badly I was willing to create the path – my own path and see where that path took me. I wanted success on my own terms and the more I learned about myself, the more of me that showed up ready to create more success and more happiness.
So, yes, there is a way to go beyond the common obstacles women face and open the door to a world of happiness and success. When you fully embody who you are, when you fully show up with all that you are – knowing your strengths, gifts, talents and challenges, which is when you truly are unstoppable. That is when you are able to lead, direct, manage, collaborate, create and succeed with ease and grace. It is absolutely possible. The only question then becomes are you willing to create and walk your own path? You don’t have to and can’t do it alone, but you, alone, can do it. Are you willing to do it?