While the phrase glass ceiling is metaphorical, many who find themselves bumping their heads on it find it very real indeed. It is most often used to describe the sexist attitude many women run into at the workplace. In a discussion of ascending the corporate ladder, the word “ceiling” implies that there is a limit to how far someone can climb it. But the limitation can encompass many others besides women.
Along with this implied barrier is the idea that it is made of glass, meaning that, while it is very real, it is transparent and not obvious to the observer. The term is most often applied in business situations in which women feel, either accurately or not, that men are deeply entrenched in the upper echelons of power, and women, try as they might, find it nearly impossible to break through. So does this just apply to women, or in fact does it describe anyone who is different?
People are stopped from progress and promotions daily based on gender and race, but it goes further to include; age, religion, sexual orientation, gender preference, disabilities, language, accents, nationality and even body type. Proving infractions can be nearly impossible because they lie within the head of the decision maker. This invisible barrier creeps in and can be the deciding factor in hiring and all sorts of opportunities which rely on subjectivity.
This year we have elected our first female candidate for president, and although this is a major step forwards, she is still subjected to comments about her hair, clothes and the shrillness of her voice. This article is not a commentary on Hillary Clinton, although here is a woman who has amazing credentials and experience yet the media and others still nitpick and judge at the lowest denominator, one nobody would use as a measurement for a man. Female newscasters seem to come under the same biased scrutiny in comparison to their male counterparts. An older man may be described as distinguished where an older woman is haggard.
Those on the path of conscious awakening are finding that being true to themselves is paramount as we shift, but can you afford to be authentic at work where these conformist requirements and hidden agendas exist? The Law of Attraction identifies that what you focus on creates, therefore if you are constantly in a state of anxiousness regarding the limitations or are trying to mold yourself to fit in, you’ll merely attract more challenging opportunities to keep doing the same.
The way to change personal circumstances, the work environment or even the world, begins with you and your intention. Accepting responsibility and being authentic begins to shift everyone and everything around you. Walk your walk, talk your talk, set an example. Take action. With that comes a surety, a personal confidence that I call presence. It is when your essence exudes an authority that you know who you are and are not afraid to show it. The French call it je ne sais quoi, something that is difficult to define or express, yet you know it is there. This is also commonly called the “it factor”, when someone has an air about them that others take notice of.
Presence is the way you show up, the energy you have around you. People who are successful have a strong sense of self or presence. These are some of the traits of people who have a strong presence:
Look confident and comfortable
Speak clearly and persuasively
Think clearly even under pressure
Act with intention
Reflect on their emotions, attitudes and situations, then adapt
They accept responsibility for themselves and the results they achieve
Authentic, real, present their genuine character
What they say and do matches who they are
By embracing those qualities, you will be unstoppable. We are living in an exciting time, when so much is changing and we are bursting through old paradigms and beliefs. Developing a strong presence, living in integrity, creating goodwill and communicating those values effectively will enable you to break through the barriers, no matter if they are glass or pre-conceptions in one’s mind. Live boldly.