It’s always an interesting exercise to pause and reflect on one’s accomplishments and assess what has been learned during the course of a career. When I look back over the last 30 years, I’m surprised by how quickly everything has passed. So the first piece of advice I have for young professional women just starting their careers is to enjoy this time of your life. This is a very exciting time filled with possibilities. What you’ll find, however, is that up until now, much of what you accomplished was based on your individual efforts—your grades, graduating and getting your first job. As you progress through your career, you’ll come to find that it’s what you bring to a team that really matters; how you collaborate with people at all levels of an organization to help achieve success as a group—not as an individual.
Have passion for what you do and courage to do the things that you fear. Be bold. Being bold means being yourself and standing up for what you believe in—even if you have to stand alone. Being bold means giving your honest opinion about situations and not saying just what you think the boss or your colleagues want to hear. Communicate your position, which should be well thought out and based on tangible data, with enthusiasm, and be ready to defend that position when you are challenged. Being bold also means admitting when you’re wrong. You can’t be perfect, or even right, all the time, and making mistakes is how you learn the most. It also makes you more credible to your team when they know that sometimes you can be wrong, and, more importantly, you know how to accept it, fix it and then move on.
The other thing to remember is to never give up on that elusive goal of achieving balance in your life. You can do it. Spend time with family and friends and take time to do the things you love to do. Everybody needs to recharge their batteries from time to time. You can be everything that you want to be—don’t settle for less.