Are Limits in Your Way?

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Posted November 19, 2013 by Katherine Toll in On the Ladder
Carolynn Brooks

Last week, I attended the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago’s (PWCC) monthly speaker series where I heard the vivacious Carolynn Brooks,Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer of OfficeMax speak. Fresh off the announcement of Office Depot acquiring Office Max, Brooks showed no sign of distress aside from asking the group’s support in, ‘praying for OfficeMax to stay in Chicago.’

Her talk, Pushing Through Perceived Limitations emphasized taking accountability for our own success — regardless of the barriers, obstacles, or number of time we hear the word, ‘no.’

Brook’s introduced three simple concepts:

1.) Perceived Limitations: Toss out any perceived limitations, whether they’re your own, or someone else’s. For instance, she’s battled her own perceived limits like, the lack of a college education and the limits she placed on herself as an African American woman in corporate America. And, what about other people’s limits thrust upon us? She quipped,

We can make a whole meal out of someone else’s words.

This comment elicited a knowing laugh from the group because we’ve all done it! Twisted, turned, and rewound conversations in our head 39,874 times and for what? Our own frustration and anger? Other’s opinions are just that: other opinions. Move on!

2.) Fear Restricts Us: Brooks offered one of the best acronyms for fear I’ve heard: F-False, E- Emotions, A- Appearing, R- Real. What a perfect description! Fear keeps us from moving forward more than any other single factor. She believes we possess the knowledge we need referring to it as ‘imbedded information’. We own everything we need, so get out of your own way.

On the other side of fear is freedom.

You won’t see, hear, or feel the obstacles when your steps contain intention. Stop being so comfortable!

3.) Turn Down the Middle-Noise: You know, the internal chatter in your head, the rewind of doubts, shortcomings, and all the reasons to quit your journey. Instead she posed this compelling question,

Push though and talk big…do you want to be a thermostat, or a thermometer? A thermostat changes the environment, and a thermometer adapts to its environment.

What’s it going to be, Career Girls? Are you a change-agent, or an adapter?  Not sure? 

Brooks finished with one more acronym for you to consider: PUSH

  • P- Push,
  • U- Until,
  • S- Something,
  • H- Happens.

Put on your dancing shoes! It’s time to take fear out of your life equation!


About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.

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