What Separates the Successful: Staying Power & the ‘WHY’

In a world of 24/7 news and information we often have a completely unrealistic perspective on an entrepreneur’s success, perceiving that it was achieved overnight, that they were just lucky or that it was easy. The reality is that that is very rarely the case.

While there are countless theories about the formula for success, there are two under recognized reasons behind entrepreneurial success.

The first is staying power, or perseverance: the sustained drive to pursue your vision and goals in spite of all the effort, the barriers, the roadblocks or the pace of achievement. This is often what separates a successful woman from one who is not – the ones who stick with it succeed.

The second is the WHY. Why did you start your business? If you don’t have a good reason, it’s hard to stick with it. I’ve been very inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED Talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action‘. Simon urges each of us to “Start with why.” I encourage you to take 18 minutes today to watch his talk:

I can speak to staying power and remembering ‘the why’ from personal experience.

The journey to build The Way Women Work has been a lot more gradual that I would ideally like. Most of the time when my family and close friends ask me how things are going, I respond, ” I feel very encouraged by the fact that we are making good progress. We take a step or two forward every day. I don’t ever feel that we are standing still or going backwards but I would like to leap instead of taking one step at a time.”

I was both blessed and spoiled in the earlier two stages of my career. As a rising professional at Bank of America, I enjoyed a series of rapid promotions and rotations achieving a senior role very quickly. When I launched my own executive coaching and organizational consulting practice, I was able to grow my business easily doubling revenues regularly. With The Way Women Work, its been a little different. We are in uncharted territory, building something that hasn’t existed before. There is a lot of foundation to lay and a great deal we are still trying to figure out.

To be completely honest with you, there are days when I question whether we are going to be able to achieve my vision of accelerating the career and business of success of women around the world. I never waiver in my belief in the importance of my goals or lack clarity for what we are striving to achieve, but I sometimes wonder if the I will be able to attain it. There are times when I am tired and I even occasionally have thoughts of giving up and going back to the parts of my business that were so much easier.

When I have these doubts I draw strength from three primary places:

  1. Business and professional women in developing and emerging markets all over the world who are achieving success in the face of many more obstacles and barriers than I encounter. I meet, connect with and talk with them regularly and they always inspire me to continue my work.
  2. My family and friends who persevere in the pursuit of their own goals, whether they are to: recreate a business, run a marathon, serve on a corporate board, stay in shape or lead their industry. I watch how they work diligently, rising early, making sacrifices, learning new skills, trying new approaches and coming up with a new approach every time they fail. I also regularly observe, read about and analyze the success of others, seeking to learn from and understand their journey rather than being seduced by their seemingly easy success.
  3. Most importantly, when doubts creep in, I go back not to what I am doing but WHY I am doing it. In my case, I firmly believe that world will be at its best when men and women share equally in decision making  at every level and every sector of every country in the world. I also know that when women share their successes, they inspire ALL women to succeed professionally.

So for me, striving for success is about staying power. Its about belief in the why you are doing what you are doing and it’s about having the endurance to pursue it.

What about you?