How  successful are you? Do you regularly  achieve your goals? Are you quickly climbing the ladder within your organization or achieving rapid growth with your own business? If the answer is no, it may be because of the way you approach your work and your career.

That's the discovery made by Jill Griffin, board director for Luby's/Fuddruckers restaurants. Griffin is the author of Earn Your Seat on a Corporate Board, and while writing that book, she began wondering why there were so few women were corporate board directors. So she began interviewing women in prominent business roles to see what set them apart from everyone else. 

She soon began to see that the most successful women took different approaches to their careers than most of us. The full results will be published in a book early next year. Here are the most important she's found that super-successful women do differently:

1. They stick to their visions.

Rather than constantly compromising or adjusting, super-successful women set their vision for what they want to achieve and how they plan to achieve it and then stand by that vision, Griffin says. 

"Find your true north and don't let circumstances move you or change your priorities," she says. "Remember what's important and keep it front and center as you progress and build your personal brand. Anchoring yourself in meaning will enable you to direct your intentions to who you need to be, what you need to stand for, and what talents and gifts you contribute to the world."

2. They step out of their comfort zones.

Super-successful women don't let fear stop them from taking on tasks and roles that are a stretch for them, Griffin says. "In fact, you should look for those opportunities. It is easy to become complacent but growth doesn't happen in those easy moments--it happens when you are thrown into the deep end of the pool and you have to sink or swim."

After all, she says, the deep end of the pool is rarely crowded, so "you will be noticed for better or worse." That can be stressful, she admits. "So find the roles that are right for you, knowing they will stretch you, but that you will succeed. And when you do, the people you work with will take note."

3. They make the most of setbacks.

"Here's a little secret I have heard over and over again in these interviews," Griffin says. "Many times, a breakthrough moment comes disguised as disappointment. Work through those moments, and you'll oftentimes find an outcome that not only works, but works better than you imagined."

Once you have worked through the setback, she adds, burn it into your memory. "You'll have other moments like this in your career and you'll draw encouragement and strength from your past hurdles that will get you over the next one."

4. They do the unexpected.

"Successful women are not afraid to try new things, things that will differentiate them from the crowd," Griffin says. Trying untried ideas can be daunting, but this is how  innovation happens and advances are made.

"Another way to to step out of line and distinguish yourself is to do things your colleagues aren't willing to do," she says. One successful executive she interviewed spent late nights in her cubicle in an empty office, calling customer after customer long after everyone else had gone home. It worked, Griffin says, and that willingness to do what others wouldn't has led to rapid advancement throughout that executive's career.

5. They have huge ambitions.

"Men have been conditioned to aim high. Not so much women," Griffin says. That's a shame because, while it may take a long time to achieve your grandiose goal, your odds of getting there are vastly improved if you have that goal in mind from the beginning. Knowing your ultimate goal will help shape the decisions you make throughout your career, and encourage you to think beyond the immediate and always look at the bigger picture.  

So go ahead--aim for the stars. That's the only way you'll ever get there.

Published on: Aug 25, 2016