Every single week for the past year I’ve interviewed a successful woman: scientists, athletes, a rabbi, activists, an astronaut, authors and entrepreneurs. Each woman has a story; each one is different. But perhaps unsurprisingly, there are traits and characteristics that they have in common. It’s fascinating to learn from them, and now I get to share those lessons with you.
Here are 16 things 49 successful women have in common:
1. They play to their strengths.
This is not necessarily the same as doing what you love. You might love doing mosaics but you might not choose that for your career. Think about what you can do so well that you can dominate your field with time. You should also love it. But successful women often choose their career paths by thinking first about what they’re good at and second about what they love to do.
2. They have ambition.
Successful women do not dream about being the best in their section or department. Their eyes are set on the best in the state or country, at least. Most want to change the world.
3. They stay positive.
Successful women know how to deal with disappointment in a way that keeps them from getting down and staying down. They know the future will be bright for them.
4. They’re organized.
The vast majority of people I interviewed said yes quickly, checked their calendars, booked a date and did the interview. No extra emails. Not many reschedules. They decide what they want to do and then they just do it—simple and organized.
5. They’re constantly learning.
These women do not stay static. They are continually improving themselves, and use mentors and coaches to accelerate their improvement.
6. They have a strong support system.
Most of the women I spoke to have a partner or family member who is supportive of what they do. They know they have somebody to lean on when needed.
7. They know failure and success go together.
Everyone has their failures on their way to the top. That’s just how it is.
8. They remain grateful.
These women give credit to those who’ve helped them along the way. They are grateful for what they have. They don’t take their current position for granted.
9. They work hard and persistently.
Nobody got to where they are now without working hard and staying persistent during the tough times. This might be obvious, but it’s a lot easier to say than to do.
10. They don’t sweat the small stuff.
Successful people are good at separating the valuable from the worthless.
11. They choose their battles wisely.
Successful women don’t make a big deal about every little thing. But if there’s a real problem, you can be sure that it will be swiftly solved.
12. They do what they believe in.
This is crucial. The belief in the purpose of their work is the fuel behind years of hard work and dedication.
13. They are confident.
Successful women believe in themselves. It’s a beautiful thing.
14. They have a vision for the future.
Successful women see a new and better world in the future and work toward achieving those changes. They are in it for the long haul.
15. They feel successful, but never done.
There’s always more, always better, always further to reach. These women are seemingly tireless, ultimately devoted and constantly curious.
16. They know how to say NO.
We often struggle with how to say no to things we shouldn’t do, especially when they come from people we love. We often associate no with rejection, and with negative emotion. And so we often assume the only way to say no is through a rupture, or aggression, or some form of tension.
However, we need to learn some of the kindest, wisest most ennobling ways to say no, when you need to.
The moral of this story for me, when listening and learning from these women over this past year, is that they are just like you and me. They were not born with silver spoons in their mouths. True, they’re intelligent and focused. But they don’t have superpowers; they have determination, vision and purpose.
We can be that! We can do that!
Written by: Edie Berg