Four Important Lessons that only Experience Can Teach

As the mother of an eight-year-old daughter, Tilly, I often think about what advice to give her about growing into a successful woman. The most important lessons I have learned in my years as a consultant are not technical in nature, and did not come from a class or a book. They are the lessons that came from experience, both in failure and in success.

Be Brave. As a student and young professional, I often worked toward perfection—the highest grade or the blue ribbon—instead of challenging myself to try something new. Playing it safe to preserve a sense of perfection is a mentality I know many women share. Yet, I also know that the accomplishments I am most proud of and that accelerated my career were the result of forcing myself to be brave and take risks.

Be Authentic. Knowing who I am and who I am not is one of the most important lessons I have learned. I often see characteristics in successful individuals, and I think, “I need to be like that.” I have come to realize that characteristics in myself, not in others, are the important ones to cultivate. I need to be true to me. Authenticity builds trust with yourself, and that trust translates to those around you.

Find Balance. Balancing my career, family, volunteer work, and personal time often feels like a puzzle with too many pieces. There are days where I feel like I cannot get it all done or am failing at everything I do. In these moments, I reflect on what is truly important to help keep my work in perspective. My family needs me as much as my teammates and clients do. To be successful in my career, I first need to enjoy the time I spend with the people I love. My work is only one piece of who I am.

Be Open to Learning. Even after years in consulting, I continue to learn new things. Embrace this knowledge. Read, learn from others, try new things, and accept constructive feedback. Learning makes you a better person and it makes life more exciting.

As Tilly grows up, I know she will be an accomplished, successful woman in whatever endeavors she chooses. But more than anything, I want her to find happiness and fulfillment through embracing her successes, and her failures, and all the other lessons life has to offer.