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Women in Leadership: Staying True to Yourself

In today’s workforce, women have more career avenues available to them than ever before. Growing up in the '60s and '70s, most women were homemakers (stay-at-home-moms), teachers, waitresses, cashiers, models, stewardesses (flight attendants), or secretaries. There were few women in leadership positions, other than in the home. Most of us growing up at that time know that moms ruled the roost.

Although there were limited opportunities, I was fortunate to have parents that were loving, supportive and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

Thankfully, they didn’t push me in any specific direction. Many parents, wanting to help their children, often push them into things that are not in sync with their passions leading the child to waste years marching down the wrong path and ultimately being unhappy. Although opportunities were limited for women, I never felt that limitation or really even noticed it at the time.

I learned very valuable lessons early on. My parents were instrumental in teaching me all the really important things in life. These values create the foundation for happiness and success:

  • You have to work hard to achieve anything
  • Work is hard, but done right, it’s worth it
  • Nothing easy is worthwhile
  • There’s no recognition that can compare to the feeling of personal fulfillment when achieving your own goals
  • Money can never replace the value of family, people and relationships

Over the past few decades, women have had the opportunity to take on more roles, many of which are leadership positions. While great, the trade-off for working mothers is the constant battle of managing two full-time jobs. Juggling a full-time career and continuing to provide for your family all while striking a balance between the demands of each is often difficult—regularly stretching to make sure both business and family receive all their attention.

The danger, though, is that there is no time left for self. I think one of the toughest things for women, and one I see often, is that the feeling of success means conformity and compromising of self.

Regardless of gender, this is not sustainable and will not lead to happiness or true success.

So what’s the secret? Success is different for every individual. It’s really a matter of being grounded in your values, knowing who you are, where your unique talents lay, what your passion is and finding ways— every day—to leverage and use those talents. This is where you thrive. Being true and authentic aligns with your values and allows you make the right decisions for you. These decisions may or may not always fit in every situation, with every team, or in every company, but if you can stay true to yourself, you’ll be fulfilled, make huge contributions, and achieve your success—both professionally and personally.