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Book review: ‘Break Your Own Rules’

You’ve run out of breath just running in place.

For months now, you’ve been more than willing to work 60-hour weeks. Nights and weekends are the norm and you never complained. You’ve taken classes, gotten certified, volunteered for committees, but it hasn’t seemed to matter.

Your career is stalled, you’re running  in place, and you just can’t get ahead.

So what’s holding you back?  According to authors Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath and Mary Davis Holt, the problem might be you. In the new book “Break Your Own Rules” (Jossey Bass, $25.95 ) they’ll tell you how to step aside and let yourself fly.

When it comes to work, you might think that tooting your own horn is akin to bragging. You’ve got a responsibility to nurture the careers of those below you, right? You might believe you’re just plain lucky to have a job, period.

But you’d still like to succeed and grow. In order to do that, Flynn, Heath and Holt say that you need to learn to think differently. By doing so, you’ll be able to act differently and opportunity will follow.

In this book, they’ve identified six major stumbling blocks to career advancement.

Biologically, you’re hardwired to be nurturing, but focusing on others won’t get you ahead. Instead, take your own goals seriously. Learn to say no. Practice taking center stage. And notice that your male co-workers aren’t the ones leaping to organize birthday cakes and baby showers.

Be brazen and bold. Asking permission, over-apologizing and wanting to be liked are holding you back. Instead, learn to take action and make decisions. Make things happen, and see what happens.

Seize the power. Act like the executive you want to be and don’t be modest. Instead, be poised, confident and take credit for your ideas and your work. Toot that horn.

Remember that you may be limiting yourself if you want “all or nothing.”  There is such a thing as “both-and,” so learn to relax and compromise with yourself.

Understand that there’s no way to avoid office politics or sales. The good news is that women excel at both of them. Learn to “run for office at the office” and know that work is a game you really can win.

When you first pick up “Break Your Own Rules,” you may wonder if such a skinny book could possibly hold much real, useful information.

Rest assured, though: It does.

Flynn, Heath and Holt say in their introduction that their dream is to see women in 30 percent of the top leadership positions in corporate America.

This book is packed with guidance and thought-changing information to make that happen, so packed that it practically begs to be read over time and with careful pondering. Good habits, after all, will take more than a quick, half-hearted 208-page browsing.

If you’re tired of bonking your head on the glass ceiling and you’re ready for career advancement, this book may be just what you need. “Break Your Own Rules” is, in fact, a book you should run and get.

The Bookworm, Terri Schlichenmeyer, is a Wisconsin-based book reviewer.

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