My strategy on every assignment has been to become the expert as quickly as possible. It’s important to stay focused on your own career and not that of others. Don’t think of your competition as only other women/ minorities you’ll limit yourself. If your career isn’t going as you had hoped, look inward first to see if you’re doing the things necessary for advancement. Reality is that sometimes as a woman you have to go more than the extra mile. You don’t have to be overly aggressive in order to be successful, but you do have to be assertive. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
In the workplace you must recognize that you won’t be successful solely on your own; mentors (both men and women) are very important. Likewise, serve as a mentor to others. You will also find that you are only as good as the team working for/with you. Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with smart people (even those smarter than you) because you will learn from them and they will only strengthen your team.
Relative to your life outside of work, strive to maintain a good balance between work and personal life, recognizing the real importance of family. In line with my philosophy of “you can have it all, but don’t have to do it all,” though I am a perfectionist I wouldn’t win a Good Housekeeping award either at home or in the office, and that doesn’t bother me. My husband and I believe in full employment and I don’t feel guilty for paying someone else to do housecleaning, laundry, and other household tasks so I can have enough time and energy for the really important things like attending my kids’ school programs, sporting events, and other weekend activities.
Finally, though family and the job are important, don’t forget to take time for yourself—we all need some private/personal time. I plan an annual visit with a friend to a health spa; it works wonders for my mental health and physical well-being.