November 15, 2018 5 min read
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They say that you only learn from the best. I think that’s true in business, as I’ve gained much wisdom from entrepreneurs I admire. But, as a woman business leader, I also feel it’s important to listen to women who have succeeded in their respective non-business fields, whether it’s sports, academia, art, or science. They can offer insight and education that’s relevant to the many challenges business women face.
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Here are some of my favorite TED Talks from inspirational women from a variety of backgrounds who have taught me lessons I try to utilize every day.
1. Overcoming obstacles
Diana Nyad, 64, is famous for swimming from Cuba to Florida — on her fifth attempt. Most people would have given up after the first four tries, but not her. In this talk, she shares the power of never abandoning your dreams when faced with even the most daunting setbacks. She also inspires you with the message that it is never, ever too late to try something.
In my own career, I have pivoted a few times. I began as a CPA in a public accounting firm, then owned my own accounting practices, and eventually transitioned into corporate leadership roles. I even own my own yoga studio. My guiding principle has always been to support people — whether to help businesses thrive as an accountant or find personal transformation through yoga. As long as your guiding value and mission is well-defined, never giving up on your dreams can become a reality.
2. Confronting vulnerability
Every woman in business faces the feelings of vulnerability at some point when you begin to question your skills, expertise and even intelligence. Why do we feel like this and what can be done about it?
New York Times bestselling author Dr. Brené Brown is a long-time researcher of emotions like courage, empathy and yes, vulnerability. Her TED talk on this subject explores her latest research on human reactions and how vulnerability can be the key to happiness and creativity.
When I became a yoga instructor, I didn’t tell the people in my business life. In my yogi life, many of my practitioners had no idea I was a CPA and an entrepreneur. Yet, when I allowed both sides of myself to show through, I created stronger connections with my staff and clientele.
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3. Asking for help
As women, it often feels we are pre-programmed to never ask for help to get what we want. Yet, as entrepreneurs, we must learn that we can’t do it alone.
Singer and songwriter Amanda Palmer talks about the shame and guilt that comes along with asking for help and tells her own unconventional story and the amazing results when she learned the art of asking for help.
It’s an important message that all women entrepreneurs need to embrace. If my husband and I didn’t have an open dialogue about our career goals and aspirations, and how we can support each other, I would never have accomplished as much as I have. When we try to do everything and not to delegate some work — whether at work or home — it takes an almost superhuman effort to accomplish anything and we risk serious burnout.
4. Dealing with rejection
You can’t escape rejection and criticism in business, but you can change how you react to it. Often the negative feedback we get can be the most important feedback we receive — if we know how to use it.
Therapist Marisa Peer offers five strategies for how to handle negative comments, not let them affect you and see the valuable lessons behind them.[embedded content]
During my career, there have been many jobs I didn’t get and prospects I have lost. Rather than looking at them as rejections, I focused on what I could learn from the experience to increase my chance of success the next time. What extra skills and experience did I need to acquire? These are lessons that no one can tell you, unless you try and try again.
Related: Female Founders Need to Stop Self-Sabotaging
5. Celebrating the process
In business, the journey is often better than achieving the goal because of what you learn along the way. Using her area of expertise as an example, art historian Sarah Lewis explains how not every piece of artwork from the great masters was considered a masterpiece, and how near failures and near wins can lead to greater achievement.
Learning to celebrate the process is one of the most essential skills you need to develop for success. Sometimes, as business owners, we want to achieve so much that we forget to acknowledge the little victories. Yet each win, no matter how small, brings us closer to our larger vision.
Everyone’s experiences and realization have something to teach us about how to deal with everyday problems — whether in business or in life. Staying open to different viewpoints can help you to take bigger risks, find a community of support, and celebrate along the way.