The invisible ceiling

In corporate circles there is often mention of the “glass ceiling”. An unspoken  limitation imposed by senior management holding individuals back from promotion and advancement for one reason or another, ranging from a less than perfect education background, to not towing the party line on ideas or culture, to maverickism and sometimes racial, sex or age discrimination.

There is however a far greater and more devastating “glass ceiling” at work in the business world: the self-imposed invisible barrier that keeps individuals in a fixed range of performance and results. To most it remains hidden from their view as they are too close to see and it probably has been running in one form or another since childhood. It is not easy to accept once we do see it, and least of all to overcome. That’s perhaps why the book shops are stacked to the ceiling with self-help books…

In a corporate setting, bosses, peers and sometimes direct reports can be useful in challenging this fixed state. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll take on the challenge and grow accordingly, or the organisation will proactively help you identify the conditioned limits that have held you back from excelling and put you through some effective training or even hire a personal mentor to support you. More and more corporates are recognising the need for this.

For those lone entrepreneurs however, out there on their own, competing for business and sometimes fighting for sheer survival in an aggressive and unforgiving marketplace, this invisible ceiling can be like a lead ball attached to one’s foot, or even like noose around the neck: crippling and even mortal!

And because they are on their own, there might not be anybody to challenge it. So unfortuantely it runs it’s course and translates into actions and results…undesirable ones!

How much money has been left on the table? How much unnecessary stress resulting in health issues has it engendered? How many relationships has it damaged or destroyed? How much agro and grief, despair and lack of fulfillment has it generated?

You may think I am referring to low performers or to the lower ranks of the business community who no matter what won’t ever produce much anyway…

Sure, that group is certainly gripped by self-imposed fixed limitations

Think about the high flyers, the big leaders, the senior partners, the leading sales people, the big players…how much are they costing their business when they just perform average? The bigger the game, the more at stake!

Average performance is costly accross the board!

Time goes by anyway, and things have to get done anyway…so why do we settle for average performance?

Might it have something to do with this invisible ceiling, an internal structure of our own unconscious making that keeps us from excelling? A conditioning so engrained in us that we can’t even see it? A structure that has as its best allies as procrastination, resignation, fear, disorganisation, lack of prioritisation, low self esteem, arrogance, forcefulness, workaholism, confusion, self-sabotage or frustration to name but a few?

So what structures have you set up for 2009 to break through your invisible barriers? …or will your 2009 be a repetition of the past ..a perpetuation of the habits and behaviours that keep your results, income, expertise, wisdom, reputation and vitality stuck at safe, predictable and “comfortable”?

Or perhaps you have developed compensation strategies that make you look good or win when you really need (and you hope no one finds out the truth!)

Food for thought isn’t it?

I don’t suppose you’d like some help in setting up the rest of 2009 to break through your “glass ceiling” would you?


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