I’m a sucker for an inspiring woman. I’ve always been drawn to people who inspire me. I can remember feeling it as a teenager. Just feeling drawn to certain teachers or friends in my life. Women who had something that I wanted to learn from or just an energy I wanted to be around.
I’m fortunate that I get to meet THE most amazing women in my work. Not just through actively teaching but through training, through networking and through business circles.
As an ambassador for #thisgirlcan Essex what gives women the tools to succeed has been on my mind. Exactly what is it that some women have which helps them break through road blocks? We all have them.
I’ve always been a very empathic person. I quickly switch on to a mood or vibe. It makes be able to sense behaviour or personality traits, especially those I admire.
I’m not a personality expert or psychologist. What I am is a 20-something pretending at being an adult (I’m actually 40 but in my head I’ve never really grown up), a mum, a wife, doing my best to run a business, occasionally winning, more often than not feeling like I’m not doing enough and often dragging my sorry self through to Friday evening only to rest a bit (if I’m lucky) and do it all again on Monday.
I always find it strange that others don’t see me this way. That they’re surprised I take things hard or don’t believe in myself. Ain’t the power of social media and it’s utopian vision of someone else’s life grand?
So as I observe those inspiring women, develop myself and work with others I’ve observed traits which all those successful women have and practice regularly. I can’t claim to have all these (still really struggling to turn my dreams into plans) and the women I meet don’t have all these either. Wouldn’t *she* be a force to be reckoned with? But if there were a blue print, I reckon these 12 traits would come close:
- Consistency. Whether it’s business or fitness, they turn up and they do. They find excuses for their excuses and do it anyway. If there’s something that’s working, they keep doing it. If there’s something that’s not working, they get help, problem solve and do the new improved thing consistently. Flakiness is not an option.
- Resilience. See above on negotiating obstacles. When life throws a curve ball or a knock back they know how to manage it. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, they just know the process it takes to move on from it. Occasionally this might mean getting help from friends or professionals or even a business loan! But they view obstacles as stepping stones or learnings and move on.
- Gratitude. I’ve recently re-started a daily gratitude practice and have noticed how much it helps my emotional resilience. In business as in life it can be so easy to focus on the negative. But in the book We. A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, the authors (Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel) talk about gratitude practice as re-joining the dots a different way. And it works. From being grateful for small work or fitness goals to being grateful for a fluffy pair of slippers or relative good health, those who are grateful are far more likely to take the positives from a day rather than feeling knocked back.
- Planning. They have a goal in mind and they can plan steps according to the way they work best. Whether financial, parental or fitness, plans keep them on track and give them something to get back to if they slip from the path.
- Action Taking. And once they’ve planned they take action. Not just, ‘dip my toe in,’ action but consistent, bold, jumping in feet first action.
- Self Care.They understand they are human beings, with failings, limits and finite energy stores with the same 24 hours, 52 weeks and 365 days in a year as everyone else. They know they are enough (or at least frequently remind themselves). They know what they need to do or not do to be happy and they do their best to make these things happen or work towards them. They reward themselves and move on from difficult times. They go to the spa for a day, indulge in a book on the sofa or buy themselves a new bag and they don’t feel guilty about it.
- They know when their cup needs re-filling. They also know when they’ve had enough. They recognise the behavioural signs in themselves that they need a re-set, de-brief or re-train. They might not be able to act straight away but they make plans to re-fill that cup and re-fuelling is a priority.
- They accept help. They know when they need help and they are able to accept it. They can also recognise the difference between distraction, support and the help they need.
- They are supportive cheerleaders. They love that others are achieving their goals. They are most likely mentors or inspirations to others but also take inspiration from those they coach or work with.
- Tenacity. They do not give up. They, like a winning race horse, might need a little break between periods of extreme tenacity (see number 7) but they know that to get success, whether that’s in business or in down time they need to persistently chase their goals.
- They are active. I’ve yet to meet a successful woman who doesn’t get the relationship between healthy body and healthy mind. If she isn’t there yet, she knows she needs to be. And then there’s competitive sport. The psychology of a race from deciding to enter, to the training to the finish line is so similar to the psychology of business that they can’t fail to learn from both. It’s been said that running your own business is the biggest self-development course you can ever go on (you learn so much about yourself). Arguably when you train, you learn these things quicker.
- They can live in the present. Above all, this is the quality that aids resilience and enables successful women to ‘do it all’ – that on the toughest day they can still be grateful for what they have right now. Freedom. Choice. Autonomy. And on the best day they can delight in success and the beauty of a win. That makes it all worth while.
Can you see yourself in any of these? Or any women who inspire you? Perhaps you are an inspiring woman to others.
I’d challenge you to take a moment to think about the women in your life who have inspired you and who continue to inspire you. Have you told them? What is it about them that you love? Where are your mental blocks? What traits can you develop to help you with road blocks in your life or goals you are struggling to achieve? Because their are no limits. And perhaps it’s exactly that that inspirational women teach us best.
Karen is a #thisgirlcan ambassador for Essex. She directs Fit School with husband Chris in Epping, Essex and teaches Pilates as well as writing about health and fitness.