One thing that has impressed me with the women I have interviewed for my upcoming book is that many have taken a rather circuitous route to success. In fact, many of them laughed about achieving all that they had with the realisation that they would have never believed it if you had told them earlier what they would accomplish. The secret for them and other successful women? Take calculated risks. A good resolution for 2009? Stretch yourself on the projects you think you can't handle yet.
The most successful women take a closer look at a challenge if the risk seemed high-profile, interesting and a real stretch. I haven't met a truly successful woman who felt she could easily handle every project, presentation or client she has accepted…or even sought out. If you are looking to advance your career in 2009, always say yes and then worry about how you will do it afterwards – because you will. One of the directors at a global accountancy firms I met made a massive career shift from primary school teaching to the world of fast moving I.T. in the early 80's simply because she realised she needed to challenge herself again. A steep learning curve, yes – but one she relished. It was such a challenge to be a woman in her mid-thirties working alongside young tech savvy men all 15 years her junior and with a long background of programming. She has obviously risen in her career, but not without a steep learning curve every step of the way. What has been your most recent learning curve?