In the past ten 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 behaviors and beliefs that sabotage success, and guarantee failure.
No matter what your professional goals and visions are, there are six core actions that will support you to achieve greater success and fulfillment over the long arch of your professional life. These actions will help you understand what you truly want to be in life, take the right action to build your desired professional identity, and get the support you need to sustain you through the tough times.
The top 6 actions to take to achieve the success and fulfillment you want in your career are:
1. Gaining Clarity
Bar none, this is the most important action if you want to achieve anything significant in life. You must understand exactly what you want and what matters most to you - 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 make a difference." That's a great start, but you need to drill down deep and peel the layers to understand what "meaningful" signifies to you, personally and specifically.
The reason so many people fail today to create fulfilling and exciting 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 career fit that will draw on those talents and passions. They 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, "greater awareness equals greater choice." Successful professionals commit to increasing their awareness of who they long to be in the world, and how they want to be of service, uniquely. When you're clear about that, and believe you're worthy of it, doors will open and new opportunities for your growth will emerge. (Download my free Career Path Self-Assessment to help you "connect the dots.")
2. Transforming Desperation Into Inspiration
Recently, I had a great conversation with a new 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." This is a vitally important endeavor - to move away from feeling desperate, victimized and out of control in the face of your professional challenges. 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 business 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. 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. (Women, check out my Amazing Career Project to help you find new inspiration to transform your career.)3. Enforcing Your Boundaries
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 power 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, professionals need to overcome their insecurities and fears, and feelings of guilt, shame and unworthiness, and learn to be strong enough to stand up for what they need and want, and ask for it.
4. Committing Yourself 1000%
To be successful in life and work, it takes commitment that doesn'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.
That doesn't mean that you should continue on your course blindly, crashing into the rocks without modifying your course. It means that you know when you need help, and you ask for it before it's too late. You commit yourself to your goals without doubt, without reservation, and do what's required, while at the same time learn to be flexible and avoid overly attaching to how it has to look or one particular outcome. Individuals 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.5. Communicating Powerfully
Highly successful professionals and entrepreneurs are typically very captivating storytellers. They know how to talk about their businesses, or 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 business 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. Successful professionals also 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.6. Nurturing Empowered Relationships
Finally, highly successful professionals understand that they cannot achieve their visions alone or in a vacuum. They invest time and energy in building mutually-beneficial relationships, and solid bonds and energizing partnership 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" at work simply won't sustain your 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.
Which of these success behaviors and actions do you need to develop to help your career flourish?
(Check out the Amazing Career Project for more about growing your career success.)