Reading Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos

by Helene Malmsio

“Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos is a fabulous strategic framework for achieving professional and personal fulfillment that draws on real life experiences.” - CELINA REALUYO (Former Senior U.S. Diplomat and Goldman Sachs International Banker)

This is a book I found myself skimming through, taking maybe 4 hours to read, that is in the Leaning In genre of business and career guides for women.

Introduction by the author:

"The title of this book is a metaphor for the challenges women face in today’s working world. Climbing a ladder (a typically masculine task) in stilettos (a feminine fashion icon) sounds almost laughable.

At the very least, it sounds more like a circus feat than a legitimate endeavor. For years, that’s how it felt for me. Some days, it still does.

Nevertheless, if we believe in our path, we should continue moving upward with our collection of shoes in tow.

It is the tension between our vision of greatness and the challenges of waiting that often brings discouragement and stress. We miss the simple joys of today and often experience years of discontentment.

This tension is evident in statistics such as these:
60 percent of women participate in the U.S. labor force.
40 percent of working women work evenings, nights, or weekends on a regular basis, and 33 percent work shifts different than their spouses or partners.
23 percent of women executives and professionals, globally, say they feel “super-stressed.”
25 percent of mothers who work full-time and have children under thirteen feel stress almost every day.²

The tension in my own life compelled me to search with resolve to find a place of satisfaction and joy."

Lynette begins the book by discussing a friend who was Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos trying to answer her own question, of “why am I working here?” and trying to find some meaning to her work. Seeking a sense of significance to her career.

Personally I know that if we don’t have a sense of PURPOSE to what we do, we don’t feel any joy of accomplishment, or fulfilment in our work. There has to be a reason for our work beyond receiving a paycheck if we are to be happy in our work.

You then get to workshop an exercise to coach you through a stimulating process of articulating your own purpose.

Then there is a section on crafting your own ‘wholeness’ by dealing with the areas of life you are ‘broken’ in. This will help you work with difficult people who are still not working on their own wholeness.

“As a whole person, you will have new levels of compassion and understanding. Your wounds will no longer drain you of the ability to look beyond yourself. You will see others through a lens that reveals deeper, nonthreatening reasons people do the things they do. You will see beyond their behaviors and develop the capacity to show mercy instead of judgment.”

Then the book looks at ways you can overcome a sense of being underutilized and unappreciated in the workplace:
“We wish we were recognized by others, deeply appreciated in ways that mean something to us, rewarded not just fairly but liberally, and allowed to flourish in all of our many abilities and talents. Often that’s just not the case.”

“Making a point to appreciate, recognize, and reward those around us is part of what makes leadership so fulfilling.”

Next the book discussed how women tend to wait their lives away. Waiting for the next thing or event that will bring happiness or fulfilment.

“... If you yourself wondering if this is all there is, longing for something more, you are certainly not alone. Hundreds of women I’ve worked with through the years, many extremely successful in their careers, speak to me of their “other dreams.” By that, they mean their deepest desires that remain unfulfilled...”

And then you workshop the process of developing your purpose again and becoming more proactive.

“Most people move up and down in a never-ending roller coaster of high expectations and deep disappointment. Each honeymoon period ends, and we find ourselves caught in the daily grind, working hard and wondering if there isn’t something better out there.”

And then looks at the strategies required using the four principles of promotion to build your personal brand in the workplace.

Next the author advocates building a personal board of directors to mentor you, and then begins on the process of learning how to build your own team.

This includes a detailed process for a team building day with various activities to help each member learn more about each other and bond better as a team.

Then it moves on to give examples of employee evaluations that you can use in appraising the skills of the people you are working with.

This book is a mixed bag of personal stories and detailed instructions for ways to make positive changes in your career, especially via working with personal mentors and networking with leaders in your field.

“In this journey of employing new, practical tools in your life and work, you have written a purpose statement that brings deeper direction and meaning. You are striving toward personal wholeness and becoming an agent of wholeness in your workplace.

You have organized a personal board, put together a personal brand plan, are becoming a better communicator, and have identified a wide variety of mentors you need.”

This book has plenty of practical examples and exercises, so I should have really enjoyed it, but for some reason it didn’t resonate with me.

Could simply be my personal taste in reading, or that I’m not clearly focused today. I don’t know.

I do think it is a book that has a lot to offer women that are in a dilemma of wondering why they are dissatisfied about their jobs, and who want to expand their networks of mentors.

Check the book out here: Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos: 10 Strategies for Stepping Up to Success and Satisfaction at Work

“Though I know nothing about stilettos, I do know good business practices, and so does Lynette Lewis. In Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos she offers insightful strategies that will positively impact your work. Every woman needs to read this book!” - JOHN C. MAXWELL

New York Times Best-Selling Author and Speaker
Founder of INJOY Stewardship Services and Equip

I invite you to post your review of the book here, as I would really enjoy reading comparison views.

I suspect that this is a book I will revisit in the future, and probably get a lot more out of it in the second read than I have done just now in this quick session.

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