While some girls are busy dreaming about their wedding day, others are fantasizing about being the next Sheryl Sandberg or Mary Barra. For the ambitious, here’s some advice to support you in your endeavors and encourage you to become the leader you are truly meant to be.
(Photo Credit: Kaboompics)
1. Know Your Worth
Before all else, you must know your worth as an individual and as a professional. This tip is first on the list for a reason, because it requires you to have a pretty clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. You’ve established a nice solid foundation when you know what makes you tick and in which areas you excel. Know your worth, and you’re more likely to make decisions based on your confidence in your abilities, rather than jumping blindly into situations. As the founder and co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series Mark Victor Hansen once said, “When your self-worth goes up, your net worth goes up with it.”
2. Keep Your Head High and Your Standards Higher
One of the most powerful tools in a career woman’s arsenal is confidence, which is not to be confused with conceit or vanity. A woman who is confident is comfortable setting high standards for herself and others and won’t be willing to settle for anything less. Many working women don’t speak up or stick to their guns out of fear that their assertiveness will backfire and label them as “bossy.” However, when in doubt, ask yourself, “What would Beyonce do?,” and Mrs. Carter would tell you confidently, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”
3. Have Passion and Compassion
Find what you’re passionate about and make a career out of it. “If you love what you do, you will remain curious to learn and your passion will be contagious,” Blanca Juti, CMO of Rovio Entertainment, tells Fast Company. “Doing what you love means also being close to your values. And don’t believe in perfection. Be kind to yourself.”
Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. Allow yourself to make mistakes along the way. In fact, it’s through those mistakes that you learn the greatest lessons and become wiser and better prepared for the future.
4. Trust Your Womanly Instincts
Take full advantage of that sixth sense, commonly referred to as “womanly instincts” or “female intuition,” which are, basically, superpowers – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, okay? There’s a bit of science behind this, too.
“[G]irls are praised for being sensitive while boys are urged to be more linear in their thinking rather than listening to their feelings,” says Judith Orloff, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA.
Learn to trust your intuition in your career because it’s usually right, even if your decision feels like you’re jumping off a cliff without a parachute.
5. Cash in and Pay It Forward
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it best; “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
The greatest thing you can do for your career is to find a great mentor who can help guide you and lend you valuable advice and feedback throughout your career. The second-best thing you can do for your career is to pass on the wealth of knowledge you’ve acquired along the way and become a mentor to someone else. It may come as a surprise, but helping others advance in their career actually helps you advance in your own career, too – it’s also one of the key traits of a good leader.
6. Master the Art of Negotiation
Just know that women hate discussing money matters and they seem to avoid negotiation talks like the plague, so if you master the art of negotiation, you’ll already be leaps and bounds ahead of a great deal of your peers, both male and female. Mastering such skills early on in your career sets you apart from the rest and also builds your confidence every time you negotiate. Even the simple act of negotiating a bargain on produce at your local farmer’s market is enough to start building the momentum and confidence you need to take on more significant negotiations in the future; start small, think big.
7. Embrace Challenges and Change
When it comes to paving a successful career, two things are certain: challenges are inevitable and change is constant. It’s important to not view these two facts as negatives, because they are, in fact, the best teachers in your career. With every challenge you face, you will learn a valuable lesson that you will be able to apply in other aspects of your life. Likewise, when change occurs in you career, you will be forced to adapt to something new and unfamiliar, which helps you become a more well-rounded and experienced professional.
Lastly, success looks different for everyone, so don’t get caught up in trying to replicate someone else’s achievements. Maybe climbing the corporate ladder isn’t your cup of tea, and, instead, you’d rather start a company that helps young girls learn to code. Define what success looks like to you and be clear on what you do and don’t want out of your career – the rest, as they say, is history.
Tell Us What You Think
What other advice do you have for young women wanting to be trailblazers in their careers? Share your pearls of wisdom on Twitter or in the comments below.