In the past 12 years of coaching and training professional women, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders, I’ve had a window into the lives of women who are dreaming big and wanting more, and getting it. Through this lens, I’ve observed several key actions and behaviors that continually pave the way for greater success and expansion. I’ve also witnessed and (experienced in myself) behaviors and beliefs that limit us, sabotage our success, and virtually guarantee that we won’t move forward as we dream of doing.
No matter what your life or career goals and visions are, there are six pivotal actions that will support you to achieve greater success and fulfillment over the long arch of your life. These actions will help you understand what you truly want to be in life, take the right, value-aligned action to build and shape your desired identity, and get the support you need to sustain you through the tough times.
The top six actions to take to achieve the success and fulfillment you want in your life and career are:
Bar none, this is the most important action if you want to achieve anything significant in life.
It’s critical to understand exactly what you want and what matters most to you in life – in short, what you’ll give up everything for.
It can’t be some vague, nebulous notion like “I want to do something meaningful” or “I want to help people.” That’s a great start, but you need to drill down deep and peel the layers to understand what “meaningful” signifies to you at the most essential level, personally and specifically.
The reason so many people fail today to create fulfilling and exciting lives and careers is that they simply won’t do the inner and outer work to determine how best to “connect the dots” – to uncover their unique talents, skills, and passions, and find the right path that will draw on and leverage in a purposeful way everything you are and always have been.
Unsuccessful people also won’t do the work to see how they are contributing to and co-creating their problems and challenges. As I learned in my marriage and family therapy training, “great awareness equals greater choice.” The more awareness we can achieve, the more choice we have in who we react, interrelate, communicate and operate in the world.
Successful individuals commit to doing the hard work to “find brave” and increase their awareness of who they long to be in the world, how they want to be of service, and what’s in the way of that vision.
When you’re clear about that, are willing to address your own power gaps, and when you believe you’re worthy of your visions, wonderful doors will open and new opportunities for your growth will emerge.
A while ago, I had a great conversation with a colleague Vanessa McGovern of Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs who shared a concept she heard from Jairek Robbins that we must learn how to “turn our desperation into inspiration.” I’ve found in my life and work too that this is a vitally important endeavor – to move away from feeling desperate, victimized and out of control in the face of your challenges. Especially in the trying times in our world today, the key is to learn how to be more accountable, responsible and capable – viewing what’s happening as a way for you to learn and grow.
So many entrepreneurial and professional women come to me sharing their stories of woe about the unfair positions they’re in (due to the economy, a toxic boss, a crushing political situation, etc.) and they’re not able to see the powerful lessons that their life is trying to teach them about these challenges.
It’s never all about victimization – even in the darkest and most challenging moments, we can find a shining sliver of light to hang on to, to pull our strength from, and to grow and thrive beyond the pain and struggle.
If you break yourself against what is, and resist it, rather than using it to help you be all you can be, you’ll not achieve the success you deserve and long for. Find a way to turn your desperation into inspiration for change, growth and success.
Once you know what you want, you have to be strong enough to protect your boundaries, honor your priorities, and communicate what’s necessary to succeed and grow. I know hundreds of brilliant, accomplished women who know what they want to achieve, but when push comes to shove, they won’t rise up, speak up and stand up for what they want. In short, they cave.
There are many well-researched and documented factors that contribute to this “caving” behavior, but whatever the reasons, women need to work to overcome their insecurities and fears, and feelings of guilt, shame and unworthiness, and their “perfectionistic overfunctioning” – doing more than is necessary, healthy and appropriate and desperately trying to get an A+ in all of it. Successful people commit every day to becoming strong enough to stand up for what they need and want, and asking for it.
To be successful in life and work in ways that align with your heart, body, mind and spirit, it takes commitment that won’t wane.
It takes believing that you can create movement in your life and business, even when the waters are still and the three dimensional world is giving evidence that you’re not going to make it to your destination. And it demands risk (usually a great deal of it).
That doesn’t mean that we should continue on our course blindly, crashing into the rocks without modifying our path. It means we need to can identify when outside help is necessary, and ask for it before it’s too late.
You should absolutely commit yourself to your goals without doubt, without reservation, and do what’s required, but at the same time, learn to be flexible, when to pivot, and how to avoid overly attaching to how it has to look or to one particular outcome.
People who realize they have vulnerabilities and gaps in their knowledge and ability, and work diligently and committedly to close these gaps succeed at a much higher level than those who hide their heads in the sand.
Highly successful people are typically very captivating storytellers. They know how to talk about their endeavors and visions in ways that inspire others to follow and support them. They know the “why” behind what they are doing, and they attract supporters, clients, and customers who share their values and beliefs. These successful people are highly adept at speaking about their accomplishments and visions in an engaging way that doesn’t put off others, but excites people to partner with them. Those who’ve created great success in life and work know how to negotiate and advocate for themselves and for others powerfully – sharing the right information at the right time, in the right way to build rapport, gain support, and engender loyalty.
Finally, highly successful people understand that they cannot achieve their visions alone or in a vacuum. They invest time and energy in building mutually-beneficial and enriching relationships, solid bonds and enlivening partnerships that last over time. They also develop an empowering, engaged community that paves the way for their success. These relationships are built on trust, honesty, integrity, and on common values.
On the other hand, folks who step on others on the way up, or who narcissistically surround themselves only with people who say “yes” and never challenge them, won’t succeed in the long term.
If you wield your power in negative ways to hurt, diminish, or squelch others, or if you’re overly-invested in corporate politics because you think you’ll “win” that way, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Guerrilla warfare and political tactics to overthrow your “enemies” simply won’t help you achieve sustainable success or growth over time.
Can you find career success without taking these six actions – maybe, but it will be a far bumpier ride with many more agonizing detours.
And you’ll wake up at the end of the journey wondering why you feel so lost and unfulfilled.