Many women in the workplace have a deep set of underlying beliefs that cause a great deal of frustration, tension and inner-struggle. As a coach who has worked with hundreds of highly-driven female executives, I have seen first-hand the devastating effects that these deep-seated beliefs can have on the lives of successful women.

These beliefs can cause women to struggle when asking for higher compensation or more time off. It can lead them to put in countless hours and regularly sacrifice their personal time and with loved ones in order to get ahead or finish unfinished work. These beliefs can cause women to justify their actions by explaining that putting in more time will lower their workload and reduce their stress later on – but the results are always short-lived. These women privately hope that their efforts will be noticed and rewarded with a promotion. A promotion is something they want, but frequently stop short of asking for.

Unfortunately, the beliefs that threaten success are not usually readily apparent and require some detecting and shifting. When taking a closer look, it is easy to find that driving beliefs not only affect the way leaders show up in their workplace; their personal relationships are equally impacted when they are hardly present, testy, or exhausted with family and friends. The overall health and wellness of these women is also frequently put at risk. It’s not uncommon to see strained marriages, exhaustion, physical injuries, muscular sprains, and routine parental angst when hidden detrimental beliefs hover just beneath the surface.

Here are a few examples of such harmful thoughts:

1.     “I need to work hard in order to get ahead.”

This could be accompanied by a lack of confidence and the belief that “I need to prove myself and I need to work extremely hard in order to do that.”

2.     “If I work hard, someone will notice and reward me.”

This may lead to self-eroding, approval-seeking behavior connected to a deeper belief like: “I don’t inherently deserve great success and if I do, it must be granted by a figure of authority.”

3.     “It’s important to be polite and respectful.”

Strong leadership can be jeopardized due to a parallel belief that sounds more like: “I need to withhold my true emotions – I don’t want people to think I’m a witch.”

4.     “Harmony is preferable to conflict.”

This type of thinking may lead to actions that delay critical decision making because the underlying belief is “I must make sure everyone agrees before I can move forward.”

5.     “I must put a great deal of time and effort into my career.”

This could hint at the deeply-imbedded belief of, “I am going to have to sacrifice a lot in order to succeed.”

These particular beliefs have a profound impact on the experiences of driven women in the workplace. It affects their ability to climb the corporate ladder, to hire and fire effectively, to negotiate winning deals and to compete in environments that may be less than kind.


To uncover and renovate the beliefs that might be playing havoc with your success, or if the above sentiments sound all too familiar, try working through your emotions in a step-by step fashion such as this:

1.     Journal daily in a secure place.

2.     In your journal, ask yourself what you really want. Write down all of the reasons why you are finding a particular part of your career challenging. Create a list. This list is the doorway to uncovering the beliefs that hold you hostage.

3.     Examine each item on your list. Ask yourself if each reason is true or or if each reason is something you were taught by others, took on inadvertently, or invented as an excuse.

4.     Begin to challenge your beliefs one at a time. Go through your list and reassess why you aren’t getting what you really want. Counter each reason why you can’t get what you want with a reason why you could get it. Write down beliefs that you would rather live your life by.

5.     Watch as your new beliefs begin to ease the tension, frustration, and struggle in your life.

The way you think inside and outside of the workplace has a huge effect on your outcomes. If some of the uncertainties in this article ring true to you, I challenge you to take a closer look at your thinking and to transform the underlying beliefs that are truly ruling the day.

What beliefs do you wrestle at the workplace? Are any of them on this list?

Images via Erin Grimson

1 comment

  1. I appreciate this call to reassessment. The balance between pursuing passions and sacrificing well-being is a delicate one. Weekly reassessing priorities keeps you on track and focused. It is easily to lose sight of the big picture in mundane, daily details. But it is necessary to decipher what is worth the pressure and where we can release pressure.


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