Success is multifaceted, it’s different for everybody, and it fluctuates daily (sometimes even hourly!) but what is certain is that the path to success isn’t a linear one.
Every single person we’ve come across has their own definition of what it takes to be successful. So, we decided to tap into the minds of this year’s Great Women Of Our Time 2019 nominee pool and asked them what qualities a person should have in order to be able to succeed in life. The answers were varied, much like the women themselves who come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
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While traditionally success is defined by hard work and time, that is no longer the case in our fast-paced, digital economy. If you’re looking to be inspired or simply want another point of view, read on to hear what our nominees had to say:
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“As most small business owners will tell you, work is a 24/7 endeavor – we never truly shut off, even when it may seem like we are at rest or at play. I never stop thinking about work – thankfully, I really love the subject matter of what I have devoted that headspace to the last four years! The secret to my success I think lies in three things: Resilience. Empathy. Kindness.”
You will succeed if you have integrity, a strong sense of self-worth. You must always strive towards attaining your goals and never, never listen to your doubters. Lots of people doubted me at the beginning of my career, but I believed in myself and I knew I could prove them wrong. Sometimes its best to trust your own heart and instincts.”
“To be successful you need grit and resilience.
Grit is passion and perseverance for meaningful long-term goals. It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. This kind of passion is not about intense emotions or infatuation. It’s about having direction and commitment. This is the kind of passion that makes me stay committed to a task that may be difficult or boring.
Resilience is the ability to absorb hardship, learn from it, come out stronger and be more effective. It is something very few people have these days, but those who do are far better equipped for success in any endeavour because they will not be denied, while their competition will weed themselves out by quitting when things get difficult.”
“Responsibility, integrity and open-mindedness are among the most important qualities needed to achieve success in life. Being responsible in your work enables you to gain other people’s trust, while behaving with integrity garners their respect. Adopting an attitude of open-mindedness and curiosity is also critical as it fuels a willingness to learn, ask questions, and constantly improve ourselves.”
“Resilience and grit are the most important qualities to succeed. In chasing our dreams, there will undoubtedly be times of rejection or failure that we will need to overcome. It is with true resilience and grit that we will pick ourselves up each time and persist in achieving our goals. Positivity in life is the next most important quality. People who are able to see the positive side of any situation (good or bad) will go far in life. ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemon juice’.”
“Success to me is achieving the three P’s as I like to call them: Perseverance, positivity, and peace. Like some other career paths, the field of primatology, anthropology, and conservation is quite specialised. Before pursuing this career, I would advise people to think very carefully whether it is a job that they feel passionate about. It is also a field that can make people depressed and discouraged, given the state of our natural environment. We must try our best to maintain positivity and hope, if not, it would be difficult to keep going.”
“Different people would have different definitions of success. It is not a one size fit all. But something that I think applies to everyone is the ability to stand up again, no matter how many times you fall.”
“The key to success is purpose, determination and compassion.”
“Success is recognising that it’s never about how we have made it on our own because there’s no such thing as a self-made person. We are all recipients of help, whether knowingly or unknowingly. It’s also the ability to recognise that we all have weaknesses (we don’t always get it right, we aren’t always put together) but still having something that we can offer to someone in need. If we have more, we can share more. If we have little, we still can share that.”
“Some qualities you need for success are perseverance, self-belief, and generosity.”
“Tenacity, optimism, humility and faith are just some of the things that will help you get ahead in your career:
- Tenacity – to be versatile and think of new ways to do things
- Optimism – see the good in every situation and every person
- Humility – to learn from people who have gone before or even just a different perspective
- Faith – some things are just beyond your control and you have to leave it to God
Do not underestimate the small things that happen to you. Anything could turn into an open door, a loyal friend, a life line.”
“Be patient and tenacious, honest and respectful and you’ll achieve success. Work with purpose and live with meaning. This is important because you are the one who is fighting for what you want – sometimes either with or against. Your aim is not always the same as everyone else and it’s a big world out there with too many things you can comprehend with sometimes.”
“Qualities that lead to success include the ability to be on time, meet deadlines, be resourceful, be resilient, have a sense of humour, not take one too seriously, have a healthy relationship with one’s ego and the courage to jump off cliffs not knowing exactly where you’ll land but confident enough to know it’s all going to be alright in the end.”
“Success is a very relative term. For one individual it might be climbing the corporate ladder, for someone else it might be bringing up their children, and forms of successes aren’t mutually exclusive. So I think what it comes down to is really figuring out what it is that’s important to you as a person, and being honest with yourself about who you are and most importantly living life on your own terms, not the terms society tells you that you should follow.”
“Passion, positivity, perseverance, patience – in this order. Without passion, the mundane and routine will take over and you will lose all the meaning of what you do. Being positive helps keep all the senses (spiritual, mental, physical) alive and forward-looking. Perseverance and patience are inter-related and these two qualities are what keeps you pushing ahead, enabling you to pick yourself up when things get tough. They keep you humble enough to recognise that things in life may not always be smooth, but one can adapt and make the best of what we have.”
“At this point right now, success is having integrity – towards self and others. When we can be truthful towards ourselves, and we can admit that we are flawed individuals who have the ability to commit mistakes even though our intentions might be good, we will be more at peace with ourselves. Through the years, I have come to realise that lying to myself about things like my own feelings have served me no benefits. I sank deeper into anxiety and depression because of conflicting thoughts and ideas. It has taken me many years, with great help from my therapist and my yoga practice, to be true to myself. And that has helped me make better and well-informed decisions, as well as formed healthier boundaries for myself. I can say no to others without diminishing my self-worth – and that took many years of tears and practice.
And of course, to be true to others is important. I no longer see the point of casting blame or ill-will towards others for self-gain. It would feed my ego at that point, perhaps, but never in the long run.
But everything is truly a practice, and sometimes we need to forgive ourselves and be compassionate towards self and others when we slip up. I have learned that apologising helps, though it might not work for everyone to receive that note of apology once harm has been done. But that’s their work, and it’s our job to make peace with ourselves so that we can forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes.”
“Drive and perseverance will lead to success. Regardless of what life throws at you, with these two qualities, you can bring your dreams come to life. These 2 qualities can be seen by others and it will empower them to do the same. So you will not only succeed in life but you will spur others to do the same. Matter of fact, I learned to embed these qualities by looking at the struggle of others and saw their drive and perseverance.”
“I think it’s important to be very mindful of defining your personal brand of success and not let anyone dictate what success means to you. Also, as you find your own meaning, along the way you will always fall down, so I always remind myself how important grit, resilience and picking yourself back up is. Finally, never stop learning and be on the lookout for lessons in every situation you do. It might be strenuous but it’s absolutely worthwhile.”
Photos: Vee Chin & Tan Wei Te
Fashion Direction: Aaron Kok
Styling Assistants: Juliet Suen & An Lyn Chee
Hair: Jason Wong/Salon Nu, Grego & Ash Loi/Sonder Salon
Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, Hongling Lim, Rina Sim, Wee Ming & Jyue Huey (for Shann Sok)
Location: 89NR, The Working Capitol, Botanico at The Garage & The Summerhouse