Recently, I participated in an educational speakers’ series on the power of negotiating at my company. In the days following my presentation, several women came up to me seeking advice on career advancement and communication skills. One woman in particular told me how proud she was of me for reaching my current position, having tracked my career since I first started at KBR almost 12 years ago.

I have been fortunate throughout my career to have had extremely supportive managers who have afforded me the opportunity to develop professionally. This experience reminded me of my ongoing responsibility as a manager and a womanto mentor aspiring professional women and empower them to believe they can achieve their goals.

I started out my career in the legal profession as a paralegal. I decided to pursue a law degree because I wanted a profession in which I would continuously be challenged.

The difference for me, in terms of achieving my success, is that I’ve always had the support of family and friends throughout my career. From a young age, my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic, and my success can be attributed to the three rules I’ve followed along the course of my career.

  1. Whatever you decide to do, do it well.
  2. Maintain your sense of humor, your sense of self and your common sense.
  3. Don’t confuse being liked for being respected, and strive for the respect of not only your peers, but also the people you manage.

I’ve also realized that a good leader leads by example and treats everyone with respect regardless of their position within a company.

A former colleague and mentor who passed away a few years ago operated by the principle “say what you mean and mean what you say.” He was a straight-shooter and a great influence on me. I have always tried to interact with clients and colleagues on a transparent basis. I tell people what I believe they need to hear, not what I think they want to hear.

As you can see, I’ve been fortunate to have received the advice of many who were interested in seeing me succeed. I’m proud of the path I’ve taken. So, I close with a last bit of advice to anyone looking to take the next big step in achieving their success.

Ultimately you are responsible for your career. Always be on the lookout for your next opportunity. Remember, your fear of taking it will fade far sooner than the regret of not going for it. I still follow that advice.