When I made the decision to leave my unfulfilling career, I was struck by how many times I heard the phrase "I wish I could do the same." Of course, having a supportive spouse and savings helps a career transition. But pursuing a non-traditional career is no less risky or scary whether you have a million dollars in the bank or considerably less. Most of the women who said the phrase had no need to "wish." They just needed to find the force within that separates leaders from followers: Courage.
As many of us will likely one day tell our children, "What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right." Sometimes taking a chance means spitting in the face of uncertainty, and shrugging off the naysayers who tell you that you can't or won't succeed. Leading by example takes courage and has nothing to do with your intellect, upbringing, connections, or the size of your bank account.
A lucky few are born with loads of it. Others need to dig a little deeper and find support in those who have succeeded -- for reassurance, guidance and simple comfort that the crazy idea might actually work.
I've had the pleasure of interviewing many entrepreneurial women in my writing endeavors, and I'm always struck by the power of their stories and shared lessons. They aren't celebrities. They weren't handed success on a silver platter. They're just brave working women who had the courage to lead by example and step off the cliff first, for the rest of us to one day follow if we so choose.
Here are a few tokens of their advice that bear repeating, for added support to all the working moms who are living on their own terms and bravely leading by example.
"If you can hang in there and persevere, the seeds you have planted will start to grow."
-- Randi Busse, founder, Workforce Development Group
"It's OK to be fearful, as long as the fear isn't paralyzing."
-- Claudia Gryvatz Copquin, journalist/author/blogger
"Do what you love and what you know. Knowledge is power. When combined with passion, it's the ultimate foundation to your success."
-- Dominique MacPherson and Melinda Marinack, The Mini Social
"Don't be afraid to puff up your chest and proudly declare your expertise."
-- Rachel Honoway, founder Honoway Interactive, LLC
"Know which opportunities are worthwhile and those that require too much sacrifice."
-- Debra Cohen, president, Home Remedies of NY
Whether it is your intention or not, leading by example can have an undeniable inspirational impact on other women. Offer support. Share your secrets of success. You might just find that courage is contagious.
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