Everyone’s heard of the proverbial strong woman. She’s confident, sassy, smart – and elusive. She lurks ahead of us, just out of our reach. We all want to be like her and if we try hard enough to reach out, we could almost brush her with our finger tips. For every woman out there who has longed to be the kind of formidable woman that spreads sunshine and warmth, that stands up tall and strong, that scares the sh*t out of the devil every time she looks his way – our “Secrets of Succesful Women” series is for you.
1. Be approachable
Smile. Even if you don’t feel calm or happy inside, act serene. A strong woman has a composed demeanor and is open to engaging socially with people. Reach out to an old friend, go out of your way to have lunch with your parents or siblings, make new friends by picking up a new hobby. Being engaged and socially approachable gives you an air of confidence. Whenever you can, help those who ask for it.
2. Say no
A word of caution when helping others: take care of your own agenda first. It is human nature to abuse someone’s time or resources if they keep helping you day after day without regard to their own purpose or preferences. So sprinkle your help generously with a “no” every now and then. When you refuse something, be polite. Say it firmly in a neutral tone of voice. Make solid eye contact. Try not to let your voice waver or rise up a few octaves – it could make you look harsh or nervous. Smile, if you can. Practice in the mirror, if you can’t.
3. Be confident
Pretend you are. Smile, square your shoulders, walk tall, walk proud. Stick your nose in the air for good measure. Surround yourself with confident and successful people. Confidence, like success, is contagious.
4. Respect yourself
Always put yourself first. By saying that, I do not mean that you should be selfish and only take care of your needs and wants. Respecting yourself means reserving the right to make the final decision regarding your actions. Think critically for yourself. It means sticking to your guns if you feel passionate about a certain point of view. Putting yourself first means being the opposite of a pushover. That said, being a rebel without a cause is only appropriate when you are an adolescent. Even then it’s not in good taste.
5. Be flexible
Pick the fights you will have the energy to invest in because your stamina is not infinite. Stand up for the things you really care about – and be flexible the rest of the time. People will know you are genuine, rational and have a backbone.
6. Be comfortable
In your own skin. Spend time with yourself. See yourself as an asset. See yourself at par with other people no matter how much taller, smarter, successful or better looking they are. You are also taller, smarter successful or better looking compared to many other people. That is the way of the world. Focus on being the best friend that you never had. One that is proud of you, knows your short comings and doesn’t give a damn.
7. Be clear
Know what you want and go after it. Sure you may have four kids, a corporate job or a demanding spouse that plant their needs and wants on you. Unless someone is about to have a code blue, meet your needs first. You know how on the airplane, they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before putting it on your kids? Like that. If you burn out, you will be of no use to others. So live with the clarity of putting yourself first. But what of the children, you say? As a mother, you will set an example for your kids. They will model the way they are in the world upon how you were when they were growing up. By putting yourself first, you are teaching them to be responsible for their own needs – which will serve them better than indulging them every time and making them extra dependent on you.