This post is dedicated to my crew: too many to name individually, but you know who you are (including the men :)).
I must admit I struggled with this title. I originally wanted to title it “Why You Should Have Friendships with Other Successful Women.” But I felt that perhaps someone would think it fake or disingenuous to suggest that women should surround themselves with other successful women. Although the saying is true–you are the average of the sum of the 5 people you associate with most. What I hope you gain after reading this post is that truly successful people (not just women) have other successful people around them before, during and after they accomplish their dreams and goals. I know the first thing you’re going to question is “how is success defined?” For the purpose of this post and my general feelings about success, I use this definition.
the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
Which makes success, you guessed it, very subjective. There are those who believe getting the highest education level possible is a sign of success. Others feel it’s the pursuit of the highest level in their career or at their company. Others feel it’s walking in the purpose God has called them to. And still others feel it’s having a family that is thriving and happy. And you know what? NONE of these examples of success are wrong or unattainable–if that’s what you want. Success is often a troublesome word for women. It is something we want to obtain, yet are sometimes threatened by those who have obtained it. Couple those feelings with society’s view that too much success is not something for which a woman should strive. And if we do, we should minimize those accomplishments as to not make others around us “uncomfortable.” This post is designed to take the negative connotation from the word and replace it with the desire to surround yourself with people who will push you to be the best you can be. I am surrounded by beautiful, successful and accomplished women–of various backgrounds and professions. My friends are lawyers, social workers, defense department employees (with high level security clearances), educators, administrators, mothers, stepmothers, sisters, aunties, business owners, bloggers, therapists, hairstylists, nurses, preachers, and much more. The are all ROCKSTARS in their professions–holding leadership roles and being thought leaders. And what I find as a common thread among ALL of them–their deep friendships with other women just like them–successful. Part of the reason for this post is my recent interaction with two amazing women. I call us P.D.A.–Public Displays of Awesomeness. Corny, but it’s true. We shine individually but we are BLINDING collectively! These women have come into my life at a critical crossroads in my life–as I redefine and transition my brand into new areas. They push me to grind, but also tell me (like all my friends) when I need to sit down (like this week as I get over a summer cold). They give me ideas from the insane (like the picture denotes below) to the practical. These women are successful and accomplished; popular and profitable; sincere and strong.
Speaking of strength, I need to take a sidebar here. I hear a lot of women talk about how other women cannot handle their “strong” personality. To which I say PISH-PAW. It has been my experience that some of these “strong” women are really insecure and try to mask it through being mean-spirited, dishonest and degrading. Real “strong” women have no trouble being around other “strong” women because they recognize strength yet it does not alter their own strength. ALL of my friends and I have differing opinions, backgrounds and beliefs. But we respect each other enough to discuss our opinions and either come to a common ground or agree to disagree–without altering our friendship. Back to the subject at hand… I think there are several reasons why friendships with successful women work and should be valued. Here are the reasons I value the friendships I have with successful women.Disclaimer: These attributes apply to both men and women. However, for the purpose of this article, I will use the term “women.”
Game recognizes game and real recognizes real: Successful women have high levels of wisdom and discernment. In other words, they recognize “game” (fakeness, ulterior motives, jive, etc.) from a mile away. But the opposite of that is that they recognize someone who is real. “Real” does not mean perfect or rich. Being “real” denotes a journey–filled with hills and valleys, twists and turns. Successful women do not necessarily mind taking this kind of journey with someone–as long as you learn as you go and do not remain stagnant.
They hold your confidence and value discretion: I rarely reveal the nature of my friendships with successful people. And most other successful people don’t either. One way to quickly shift to the bottom of the totem pole is to name drop. When people do that to me, I roll my eyes internally and almost instantly tune out the person speaking. The French poet Jean De La Fontaine says, “Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable.”
They understand your struggle: Because successful women have to deal with issues related to time management, work-life balance, sexism, discrimination, dishonesty and all of the other “-isms and skisms” of life encountered in the pursuit of a dream, these women will have a degree of empathy and even sympathy that women content in their current stage of life may not possess. Successful women understand and will offer guidance to help you overcome the struggle or cope during it.
They celebrate your success like its their own: I brag on my friends all the time. When they accomplish something big, I celebrate them like it was me. Successful women understand that success for one is really a success for all. This is what prompted women journalists (including Oprah) from all of the major networks to celebrate Barbara Walters on her retirement. Even prior to her retirement, any woman journalist worth her salt always acknowledged that there would be no them without Barbara Walters. Her trailblazing success created the careers of many of the women love to watch on TV today!
The exchange of ideas, encouragement and advice is free flowing: My successful friends always send me stuff to think about, do, enter (contests), etc. Successful women do not seek to hoard all the ideas and information for themselves. And I do the same. Some of my friends hate to see me coming, because they inevitably leave with a “honey do” list. Successful women share information that will help the other successful women in their lives be more successful.
They are solution-oriented in challenging situations: Successful women will empathize and listen to your challenges–for a little while. But pretty soon into the conversation, successful women say these words, “So what are WE going to do?” Successful women understand challenges happen, but they are more interested in helping their successful friends overcome their challenges and find a solution.
The value each of you bring transcends time, distance, socioeconomic status and job title: This morning on Wendy Williams, friend in my head, J.Lo was on. Wendy asked her about her friendship with former “King of Queens” star Leah Remini. J.Lo recounted the story of how they met and that at the end of that meeting, they both said to each other, “I will never leave you.” Successful women realize that the value you bring to their lives and vice versa is not tied to your status or job title. I’m sure people may not understand why the two are friends (since Leah does not have an active TV role now). But I’m sure none of that matters to J.Lo or Leah. Do not think someone has to be in same tax bracket as you, live in the same neighborhood or have a membership at your country club in order for them to bring value to your life. Conversely, do not think that because you do not have those things that you cannot bring value to someone else’s life who does possess those things.
They are not intimidated or threatened by your success: Successful friends want you to do like Rihanna sings and “Shine Bright Like a Diamond.” The most awesome example of this is the friendship between actresses (pictured below from l to r) Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long and Sanaa Lathan. Each are successful, accomplished women in Hollywood. Some would think that with the shortage of roles for African American women that these women would be competitors, not friends. But their inner strength and spirit allows them to have a genuine friendship and support one another in their individual pursuits. Successful women never give the side eye, cold shoulder or minimize the success of their successful friends.
They will come along side you and help/support you in your individual pursuits. In my opinion, one of the greatest examples of this is the recent release of Michelle Williams’ video “Say Yes.” Despite what any of us may think about Michelle’s voice, her starpower compared to her former bandmate, or the “need” to increase her reach by adding Bey and Kelly to the video, Michelle, Beyonce and Kelly Rowland have a genuine friendship. And when they have individual projects or endeavors, they lend their time, voices and talents to it.
The sign that their friendship is mutual is the fact that Beyonce added them to her Superbowl performance. Bey understands that part of her success is attributed to the success she had while with Destiny’s Child. And I’m sure Kelly and Michelle were happy to participate in an opportunity to perform in front of millions–which was a nod to the starpower of Beyonce.
They understand your advice comes from a place of genuine care: P.D.A. gets on my case sometimes–ok a lot. But I know where it comes from. They really care about me. So as I massage the toes they just stepped on, I muster up the courage to listen and take heed to the advice they share. Successful people do not have time to waste on being petty, divisive or dishonest. So what they offer comes from their heart, mind and soul.
They “push” you in a way others won’t: My successful friends, especially P.D.A., push me. While we’re on Google Hangout, exchanging thoughts and ideas, one of us is usually Googling and getting more information. By the end of that conversation, there is usually a list of people to contact, things to research and steps to take. Successful friends are action oriented; and expect their friends to be that way too.
They don’t “do” paralyzing doubt or fear well: Successful people have doubt and fear just like everyone else. However, one of the reasons they are successful is they take risks. They leap before they’re ready. They do before they’ve achieved. They take risks. And they like for their friends to do the same as well. When I express too much doubt or give too many reasons why something “may” not work, my successful friends get quiet and usually end the conversation pretty quickly. Usually within 24 hours I’ve started doing what they have advised, and to date, none of them have steered me wrong. Successful people understand what I posted a few weeks ago on Instagram:
They expect you to perform, do and accomplish: All of my successful friends and I end any sort of conversation on a dream or goal with, “So when are you going to do this?” And it’s understood that the answer has to be decisive and soon. As I stated, successful people are solution and action oriented. And the way they stay invested in a friendship is for others to be as well.
If you’re wondering how to network and seek out friendships with women you deem successful and how to attract women who are successful as friends, here are my thoughts…
Be prayerful and thoughtful. Part of my daily prayers is for God to send people in my life who speak life and send people away who speak death (bad things). You have to have a high level of discernment and wisdom in order to know who you should align yourself with and who you shouldn’t.
Be genuine. This probably should have been first. You have to be you. You have to be genuine. Even if you have a reason for wanting to befriend them or get to know them, you have to be genuine about it. Successful people do not live by Drake’s rule “No new friends.” They live by the song I learned in Girl Scouts, “Make new friends. But keep the old…” The saying is true: People do business with those they like and/or trust. When you are trustworthy, you can be trusted.
Be a giver, not just a taker. I am coaching a young woman who is a minister right now . What she probably doesn’t know is that every time I’m with her, she drops some nugget in me. Even though I’m offering her a service, what she gives me keeps me coming back for more. Find ways you can help friends (new and old) be more successful in their lives.
Be accountable. The young woman I am coaching now says she realized that having me as a coach has made her accountable and that she knows every 2 weeks she has to give “an account” for where she is on the tasks I’ve given her to do. Successful friends may not verbalize that you’re accountable to them, but it’s felt and understood.
Be a doer: One of my favorite successful friends embodies this principle so well. Whenever I suggest something for her to look at or try, she does it. I have other friends I’ve done this for and they are like, “welllllllll…” So they eventually get
Success is an individual led and community supported event. I am thankful for my community of successful friendships and the value they bring to my life. What value do the successful people you are friends with bring to your life?
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