“You decide what to take from your past into the future.” This universal truth was communicated by Harvard alumnae, Bonnie St. John earlier this summer at a women’s empowerment program. Mrs. St. John, a paraplegic Olympic medalist, author and leadership consultant further illustrated her point with two “selfies,” one from the past the other taken in present day.
Bottom line, St. John did not allow a physical disability to limit the trajectory of her life. She continually sought opportunities to succeed by simply utilizing common ingredients for success in any arena… ambition, passion, knowledge gained from hard skills, persistence as well as leveraging networks. We (college women) are like a nation of novice chefs. Our kitchen’s (colleges) offer access to the same ingredients. However those of us who achieve the designation of “master chef” learn how to mix just the right amount of each ingredient to create our own recipe for success.
Ingredients (in no specific order):
- Hard skills:
No matter what industry and/or career you choose, you have to develop skills that are second nature. John Rice (CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow) said “hard skills are like brushing your teeth and taking a shower; you know it’s something you have to do every day and you do it without even thinking about it.” A person develops most of their hard skills in school by achieving high grades and/or doing some self-studying on their own about a subject matter. Without hard skills, it will be harder to incorporate other ingredients because this is your base.
2. Support network:
Mentors, coaches, parents, friends, and your sponsors all are entangled into your support network. These people help you out when you do not even know you need help. Everyone in your support network is there for multiple reasons; they support you mentally, physically, and financially.
The last tip was having a support network but you also have to network with others to gain entry into programs, companies, forums, gatherings, and other establishments where you can see yourself. A wise woman once told me that your “network determines your net worth,” meaning that the people you meet and who you associate with will define your value in life. Networking is a great opportunity to advance in your career and also meet likeminded individuals who share the same interests and goals.
Sometimes it seems like when you’re given opportunities it is the right place at the right time but opportunities are all around you. Women limit themselves to certain opportunities we think we can get rather than going about what we truly want because we have blinders on. Tunnel vision is great when someone knows what they want but having a narrow scope when looking for opportunities can set a boundary to what you find. Be open to new opportunities!
5. Reaching back:
When I was in high school, I learned about the law of reciprocity and in my opinion it means: someone has helped prepare you for your journey in life and in return you should assist someone else. Women are wonderful with lending advice and being willing to help others be all they can be by sharing their stories and mentoring. Giving back to others not only helps those people but it creates a chain reaction to provide a picture to many others of what their future could look like.
You may not hit the jackpot on the first try but if you keep playing then you are bound to win. Remain persistent about your goals and you will get there when the opportunity arrives. The world is full of unknowns but if you are persistent in what you want to achieve, it will happen sooner rather than later.
Last but very not least, you need to have passion and perseverance in wherever you want to go. Monetary things, benefits, and material things only mean so much to a person. Have you ever noticed that the best things in life aren’t actually things? When you pursue your career, no matter what it is, you need to have a motivation that is internal and keeps you going. “It is easy to make a buck but hard to make a difference.” –Tom Brackow
Every woman’s success is not the same and means something different. These ingredients listed above are used in the recipe to success but if anyone knows something about cooking, people also have their secret ingredients they add to make it taste a bit better. With that said, these are not the only tips that are needed to become successful (however you define your success) but when you take advantage of all of these tips it can bring you a step closer to where you want to be. Your dream career does not exist because you haven’t created it yet!
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale