When I think about creativity, one of the first movies that pops into my head is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly live inside a business where I could lick walls made of candy and float along a chocolate river. The final few minutes of the film always stick out to me, in which Charlie, his grandpa, and Mr. Wonka are in a glass elevator. In a blind moment of courage, Willy Wonka pushes the button and sends them sky-rocketing through the ceiling, out of the factory, and into the open sky.
Business is a lot like being in an elevator with a glass ceiling. You can see the wide open spaces of success just above your head, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll make it out with all your fingers and toes. Instead, you spend your days going up and down, riding the highs and lows, carefully tucked inside the four little walls. In my business, the glass ceiling represents a risk that I am unwilling to take and often, a glimmer of success I am doubtful that I’ll achieve.
Recently, I have found that my biggest frustration in business is that I can’t seem to make the things that I want to see change actually change. I don’t believe this is an issue isolated to owning your own business; many professionals have something in their work-life that they are desperate to correct. However, most of us take the same approach. We keep our heads down and our eyes on the prize. We hustle.
The hard knocks of entrepreneurship have taught me a very important lesson throughout the past two years: persistence isn’t enough.
If you’re working as hard as you can, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere, the problem may be that you are persisting without innovating. If you have been trained to work hard without making changes, your plans won’t get you very far. You see, over the past two years, I feel like I’ve been trying to do the same things. When a plan fails, I go back to my business playbook and try to run the same one again. Instead of challenging myself to be creative, I relax into the auto-pilot of routine. But, in a world without imagination, the only thing an elevator can ever do is go up and down.
Businesses and careers that don’t innovate eventually die. It’s easy to feel burnt out and exhausted when you hustle with no result. But instead of working yourself into the ground doing the same things, consider the possibility that your playbook might be outdated, and the only solution is to create another option.
This is what many entrepreneurs define as a pivot – a change in course or direction. The ability to outline the need for a pivot and to execute said pivot is the differences between a persistent person and a resilient person. Persistence says, “ I will do what is required of me with great intensity.” Resilience says, “When I reach the ceiling, I will go above and beyond what is required.” Success is not a guaranteed result of pivoting, but if you’re boxed in, the only way to go is up and out.
Don’t be afraid to break the glass ceiling; you might come out flying on the other side.