After 17 years of coaching, mentoring and training women, I can’t help noticing how many women face similar obstacles or barriers.
We all have different personalities, goals and ideas of what success means to us; we also have different talents, abilities and ways of thinking. All this will inevitably mean that we have unique ways of approaching problems and solutions. But, deep down, many of us share barriers and obstacles that will trip us up sooner or later.
Lack of time, missing boundaries, and ‘playing small’
Many women I know find it really challenging to fit in everything that business owners need to do. And this pressure can lead to fire-fighting and panic.
Let me give you an example:
Do you know that feeling when someone makes (what you perceive to be) unreasonable demands? Or when they are picky and unappreciative which pushes a sensitive button?
Some of you may ignore the situation (perhaps because you’re too busy), others may give in to the pressure and go to great lengths to fulfill their unrealistic expectations. Despite being too busy! Both are easily done, especially when you want to please and don’t have strong boundaries in place.
But the price of not taking the time to find a better solution – a win-win for both parties – can be high. In the first scenario you might lose a customer, in the second you might be giving them permission to take advantage of your goodwill. That’s Ok, you might think, until you realise that you’re starting to feel more and more resentful and stressed.
At one of our International Women’s Day events I once spoke about women not liking confrontation and negotiation. Where men may not hesitate to ask for a pay rise or a higher daily consultancy rate, many women would rather wait, hoping they will be offered what is appropriate.
Do you recognise yourself in the above scenario? Are you playing small too?
If you are being held back by lack of confidence in your abilities, then it will be much harder for you to go for the ‘big projects’ that would benefit you and your business.
It can also be caused by fear and both are a common cause of procrastination – not acting when we should to overcome ‘our’ obstacle.
Please bear in mind that constant ‘busy-ness’, missing boundaries, procrastination and ‘playing small’ may just be the outward symptoms of an underlying barrier.
What’s in your way?
Barriers can be internal such as fear or lack of confidence, self-belief, skills, knowledge, talent and/or experience.
They can also be external, such as lack of funds or cash flow, a poorly-designed website, lack of support (at home and in business), negative colleagues, the glass ceiling, having no one to delegate to, or an ineffective network.
How to overcome your obstacles
Let’s try a little problem solving:
- Define the problem: try to understand exactly what isn’t working or what’s holding you back.
- Try to identify the real cause: understand all the reasons why you are in your current situation, or what may be stopping you from moving forward. Are you facing an internal or an external obstacle, or both?
- Gather information: research the problem online or by talking to people you trust. Ask for help and advice. Find out what can be done to overcome your particular obstacle.
- Consider the solution(s)
- Plan your next move
- Go for it! Make the necessary changes to overcome your problem or obstacle.
- If you are dealing with an internal obstacle and lack the confidence to tackle it head-on, surrounding yourself with positive people who understand your problem, and are willing to support you, can make all the difference!
- Remember to celebrate or reward yourself, to acknowledge your progress and your achievement.
The ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles can often mean the difference between success and failure in business. Sometimes big action may be required, but at other times, smaller actions and changes are all it takes. But whatever the size of the action, your business will improve no end by tackling and overcoming your obstacles!
(Please note this is an updated version of the original post published in 2011)