For some time, I’ve been following inspiring women leaders, entrepreneurs, business movers-and- shakers, writers and others on the cutting edge of thought leadership, and I’m still awed and amazed at how much there is out in the world to be inspired by.
In my line of work as a women’s career coach, executive trainer and writer, I’m fortunate to connect with women like Whitney Johnson and Judy Robinett who invest deeply in ideas, business and people and help their dreams become reality. And with women like Janet Hanson and Claudia Chan,who have a calling to spotlight other women’s growth and promote women’s success like a powerful brand. Or Tory Johnson who, after a brutal firing years ago, found her calling to become a powerful and empowered voice for working women in America. And Brené Brown, whose TED talk on shame and vulnerability rocked the world and continues to make waves of important contribution. The list goes on and on.
But years ago, I remember being rendered speechless when someone asked me, “Who’s your role model? Who inspires you?” The sad truth is that, at that time, the answer was “No one.” I was so out of touch with what I authentically cared about in the world, and felt so alone, despairing and isolated (because I truly hated my corporate work, and myself in it, and just couldn’t figure a way out of it), that having a role model or connecting with women who inspired me was the farthest thing from my mind.
What snapped me out of this isolation and disconnection was my own brutal layoff after 9/11, and my decision then to stop playing the victim, take control, and reclaim my passion, power and purpose in life and work. Figuring out what I wanted to be and do in the world, and mustering the courage and commitment to pursue that was what it took for me to reconnect to the land of the living and find true role models – women who were ten steps ahead of me doing what I longed to do.
In the past year of writing my Forbes blog "Career Bliss" and contributing to Huffington Post, AARP Work Reimagined and other organizations, I’ve observed some common traits of inspiring people who are achieving amazing success, making a difference, contributing positively to our culture, and supporting women’s growth. In fact, I’ve found that there are 13 core traits of highly successful and inspiring women (see my Amazing Career Project for my video about these 13 traits). But three traits continue to rise to the top of this list.
Bar none, the following are the top three traits you’ll see in people who inspire, enliven, empower and uplift us.
The three core behaviors or traits of deeply inspiring people:
1) They have forged their own authentic path — taken a hard, unpaved road that goes against the grain and demanded a tremendous show of guts, strength, commitment, and perseverance.
In other words, these people have taken a brave, new direction and are living full-out what they talk about, study and research. They are the true embodiment of courage and fortitude in the face of opposition, criticism, judgment, and what sometimes seem to be unbeatable odds. They don’t just talk about what they’re fascinated by — they’re immersed in it and exude it, body and soul.
2) They are supremely “other-focused” — they derive an enormous sense of satisfaction and reward — and spend most of their professional time and energy — helping other people, or organizations and enterprises, grow and flourish.