There is a natural correlation between what it takes to be successful at work and successful in your love life. McKinsey and Company, a global consultant, did a study of successful women leaders around the world and found that they possessed three main attributes: presence, belonging and resilience. With Valentine’s Day tomorrow it struck me that we could apply these three impacts to our relationships as well.
Presence comes from being aware of who you are and living authentically. There is a confidence in knowing who you are and accepting it. Others will know if you are being authentic and, if you are, they will be attracted to you – no one likes a phony. This is not only true in office meetings but also in social situations. Hwenri Frediric Amiel captured this well when he said, “Women wish to be loved not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves.”
If you want to be loved for yourself you must first be yourself. And that takes some personal awareness and analysis to really understand who you are. Ask yourself these questions: What are you passionate about? What gives you energy and what depletes you? What are your strengths and your weaknesses? Are you extroverted or introverted? Then align your external image with your internal being. You’ll have a better chance of relationship success by presenting your authentic self when you meet someone.
Belonging comes from finding your tribe and connecting with a larger group. To progress in our careers women need to engage the assistance of others– none of us is an island. Developing a network will provide this and that comes from making it “all about us”, rather than “all about me”. The collective goals of the organization must always be considered in light of individual aspirations. It is exactly the same on a personal level. Consider what you can do for a prospective partner- offer help and support unconditionally, without an agenda.
Both at the office and at social engagements, see the good in others- share only optimism. For example, just as you wouldn’t talk negatively about a past employer, you shouldn’t bash a previous boyfriend. Others will quickly conclude that your sharp tongue could easily be a danger to them as well. It will also make your love interest leery of self-disclosure, eliminating the opportunity to connect on a soul level. Finally, if you have a network others will sing your praises to boost your credibility, either at the office or with that cute guy you just met.
Resilience comes from accepting opportunities and risk. It is necessary to do both when you develop your career and especially when you take the leap of love. To build resilience successful women are able to put bad experiences behind them and not dwell in negativity when things don’t go as planned. When a project at work goes astray they don’t beat themselves up, they consider it temporary and make a plan to do things differently next time.
When it comes to love a man may hurt your feelings with an insensitive remark but rather than saying negative things to yourself like, “I’m just not lovable” don’t overreact or become despondent. Build resilience, let it go and move on. Your happiness doesn’t depend upon his opinion or approval. You can meet your own needs.
However, sometimes you have to call it quits. Too many women stay way too long in the wrong job or the wrong relationship because they don’t think that they have options. If you’re not being treated well in either situation you have to be willing to exit stage right. Remember that the longer you stay with a company or a relationship that isn’t working, the more it will deteriorate. When that happens it is key not to give up but instead turn your attention to visualizing a better dream job or dream man.
Early on in our marriage I came home from a business trip on Valentine’s Day. My husband was out, but he’d left a bouquet of flowers and a mushy note. This was entirely out of character for him, and I was thrilled – I remember putting it away, thinking, “this is so special, I’ll save this note forever!”
Shortly thereafter, my husband came home and said, “Did you get my note? Wasn’t it a hoot?” Realizing that he thought it was a joke to write the message I cherished, I angrily tore it up and threw it in the garbage along with the flowers. Then, in my most commanding voice I told him to sleep on the couch. He tried to apologize, but I wouldn’t hear it.
Throughout the next day he repeatedly phoned my office, but I made it clear that no one was to put through his calls. In the early afternoon as I was conducting a meeting, he crossed the room on bended knee, begging forgiveness in front of everyone on my floor. Of course, I had to laugh and couldn’t stay upset…
One of the secrets of our marriage is that we have always been able to laugh. Hugh Sidey expressed the importance of this when he said, “Above all else, go with a sense of humor. It is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lip is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.”
To enjoy your career and your love life remember to find and express your authentic self. With that, you’ll successfully connect with your tribe and realize the benefits of belonging. But most of all, remember that things will not always go as planned in either department. It is up to you to persevere for if you do, you will surely find satisfaction at work and at home.