DRIVING LESSONS Push the limits, right through the glass ceiling

DRIVING LESSONS: Push the limits, right through the glass ceiling

Lu Hanessian

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a luncheon honoring Barbara Walters in New York. Ms. Walters, in her early 80s now, vows she will never retire.

Why would she? She’s in good health and her life has been a practice of stepping up, showing up and pushing limits.

Ruth Friendly, the woman who introduced her, recounted some stories of triumph over near-impossible odds in a once male-dominated television industry. It was no secret that Walters’ co-anchor Harry Reasoner was less than gracious to her.

But, as a young woman on network news, Walters didn’t cower or sit mutely in the corner waiting for her turn to speak or shine. She got out in the field and asked questions. Nobody told her what to ask Fidel Castro. Or Anwar Sadat. Or Benjamin Netanyahu.

«She didn’t just break the glass ceiling,» said Friendly, «She pulverized it.»

Pulverized.

Checked your ceiling, lately?

We all have one in some area of our lives.

Maybe our ceiling is professional. Maybe it’s relational. Maybe it’s personal. Perhaps it’s creative.

Our ceilings are our (often) self-imposed limits, otherwise societal, familial patterns and parameters that have become the narrow dimensions of our identity. We have each grown up with our stories. Some are stories of perseverance and resilience, some of victimhood and betrayal. Other experiences fuel our drive and others sap our energy.

None, though, are written in stone.

Even if our biography, in a real sense, can become our biology, we can change our very circuitry through examining the familiar practice of our thoughts, feelings and learned fears. After all, that’s what our ceiling is made of — fear, based on the relationships, emotions and self-perceptions we have experienced in our lives.

Ceiling Pulverization 101

Recognize the moments when you feel stuck. Stuck is the state we get into when a ceiling has made itself at home and our aspiration for something more has been quashed by our fear of change.

Let’s try five fill-in-the-blanks:

1. «I could never do ______. I don’t have the ______.»

2. «I have an idea for a ______ but I don’t know how to ______ so I guess I’ll ______.»

3. «The last time I tried to ______, I stopped because ______.»

4. «I never saw myself as ______. If I were to try ______, I’m afraid _____would get in the way of me ______.»

5. «Every time I tried to _____ in my life, _____stopped me and I felt ______. That’s when I began to believe _______ about myself.»

The key to thriving lies not in some magic formula for success but in the seemingly mundane details of our lives where our worst fears live yet never materialize.

I’d like to hear from you. Fill in the blanks and send me your answers. I may include them in my next column (with or without your name, as you wish) on what to do when you’re ready to pulverize your ceiling, but worried about the debris. Stay tuned.

Email Lu at info@wearyourspirit.com Lu Hanessian is the author of Let the Baby Drive (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) and Picnic on a Cloud (2011), former NBC anchor and host of Make Room for Baby on Discovery Health Channel, a parent educator, consultant, speaker, founder of Parent2ParentU.com and WYSH Wear Your Spirit for Humanity now in Haddonfield. Her newest book is The Garden: A Parenting Parable.


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