The road to business and career success can be a long haul for women. Often times you feel like you’re walking a tightrope across a minefield, in high heels, juggling grenades. So what are the success secrets of those who make it? What does it take to lead and win on the battlefield of business?
In today’s “everything’s out there” world we’ve all seen or heard about those successful women who make it look effortless. Who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Who seem to have it all together, appear to thrive despite the obstacles and turn everything they touch into gold.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work or interact with a number of standout women just like that. Here are five success secrets I’ve learned from them that can benefit you too.
- Challenge your assumptions.
Assumptions are limiting. To get ahead in business you’ve got to summon the courage to embrace new challenges and learn to thrive outside your comfort zone. Be prepared to reset your default modes. Instead of always going to what you know – stay open to what you don’t know. Question your assumptions, expand your thinking and regularly try something new.
Bottom Line: If you rely only on assumptions, it can cost you and your business a lot more than a little short-term discomfort.
- Be a problem solver.
There’s no room for drama queens in business. When you create drama you only add to the problem. Good problem solvers have reasonable expectations and see their problems as an opportunity for improvement. Cultivate the ability to step back, look at the whole and explore all the options. Rise above the drama, frustration and fear. Fear can make your decisions irrational and unproductive. When your mind is clear, solutions manifest.
Bottom Line: Learn how to adapt and resolve when things don’t turn out as expected. There’s an opportunity in (just about) every problem, so turn it to your advantage.
- Pace yourself.
Too many women tend to operate in over-drive and overload. While it’s good to be passionate about what you do, being able to stay the distance is equally important. It’s persistence, grit and a measured, manageable pace that will maintain your drive and get you there – not a frenetic “have to do everything now” mentality. Overload leads to burnout, so pay attention to your energy and coping levels and get to know the schedule and workload that works best for you.
Bottom Line: Pace yourself, prioritise and create more margin around what matters most, so that at the end of the day you’ll have enough left in the tank for your family, not just fumes.
- Forge your own path.
Launching and running a business is one of the steepest learning curves you’ll ever encounter. It’s wonderful to learn from experience, especially other peoples’. Beware though! You’ll find no shortage of naysayers and opinions, and it can be easy to allow others’ advice to colour your own experience or ideas to the point where you over-analyse and second-guess everything – and get nowhere. Eventually you need to trust your instincts and blaze a trail that’s uniquely yours. Sometimes the things that are slightly off track or outside the lines can yield the biggest results.
Bottom Line: Nobody knows yours business as well as you. Learn from the tried and tested, but don’t be afraid to create your own twist on it and dare to do things differently.
- Think forward.
When you get bogged down in the day-to-day busyness, it can often be hard to see beyond that encyclopedic-size To Do list, to where your business should be heading. Management guru Peter Drucker once said “The only way to see the future is to create it.” Your vision for the future is what will keep you excited and energised. So set aside some regular e-time (Entrepreneur Time) devoted to learning and thinking about ways to innovate and what’s next – even when what’s next is not of your own making.
Bottom Line: Strike a balance between planning for now and thinking forward to new ideas, so that you stay relevant in the market and ahead of the competition.
Success is rarely, if ever, a straight line. You’ll constantly be wearing many hats at any given time and handling multiple moving parts – all while negotiating a succession of twists, turns and detours.
I truly believe that women are the game changers of our generation. Especially in a business world crying out for the distinct qualities only women can bring. Keep these women’s success secrets in mind and follow their lead as you build your own business and career. Lean into the unknown, make discomfort your ally, define what success looks like for you and be fearless in the pursuit of it. Then watch your confidence, abilities and prospects grow.
Jan 14 in Women in Business