15 Successful Women on Ambition, Confidence and Failure

15 Successful Women on Ambition, Confidence and Failure

Whether you’re rising up through the ranks at work, considering a career change, exploring a side hustle, or running your own business, you’re going to come across numerous challenges. Below, 15 women — including Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, girlboss Sophia Amoruso, and icon Oprah Winfrey — get into the methods, tips and tricks they use to motivate and encourage themselves. Read on for reflections on taking time for yourself, owning your success, and why you shouldn’t be tough on yourself if you’re no longer satisfied with your work.

1. Reese Witherspoon

On ambition: “There was a Columbia University study that concluded that a woman with ambitious traits seemed selfish and less worthy of being hired than a man with the same traits, which made me wonder, What the heck is wrong with being ambitious? I have been ambitious all my life. In fact, I vividly remember telling my third-grade teacher that I wanted to be the first female president of the United States. Ambition is simply a drive inside of you — it’s having a curiosity or a new idea and the desire to pursue it.” — Glamour

2. Oprah Winfrey

On knowing your worth: “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”

3. Rihanna

On moving forward: “When a door closes, you have two choices: give up or keep going. Let them shut you down, or prove them wrong. We all start somewhere; it’s where you end up that counts.”

4. Leandra Medine

On change: “I have gone through phases where I’ve wondered if fashion was the right industry for me and it has always provoked a real identity crisis in me. I’ve always wondered if this means I just don’t know who I am anymore, you know? If you find that you’re not as satisfied and inspired by the work as you thought you were going to be, well I mean number one is definitely do it because you have nothing to lose and as much as people say life is short, it’s also long, so go with that, and if you find that it’s not for you, don’t be so hard on yourself.” — Vogue UK

15 Successful Women on Ambition, Confidence and Failure - Quote from Emily Weiss

5. Emily Weiss

On problems: “You can make a million excuses for why something didn’t go well, but ultimately, just fix it and get on with it. Be a solutions person.” — Into the Gloss

6. J.K. Rowling

On failure: “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.” — Harvard University, June 2008

7. Tavi Gevinson

On being confident: “I guess for me it’s a matter of picturing my life’s work without confidence/stamina/GUSTO, and then picturing it WITH, and the WITH one is much more full and real and plentiful. Think of how many incompetent assholes are successful just because they are confident! Or of how many competent people hold themselves back! If you can master both competence AND confidence, young grasshopper, then you ought to be able to do anything you want.” — Rookie Mag

8. Michelle Obama

On prioritising your health: “If you do not take control over your time and your life, other people will gobble it up. If you don’t prioritize yourself, you constantly start falling lower and lower on your list.” — United State Of Women Summit 2016

9. Sheryl Sandberg

On taking every opportunity: “There is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” — Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

15 Successful Women on Ambition, Confidence and Failure - Quote from Shonda Rhimes

10. Shonda Rhimes

On owning your success: “I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” — Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

11. Chiara Ferragni

On doing your best: “Everything you do, try to do it as best as you can. We all make mistakes, and I can’t even count how many I make every day. Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from realising a dream.” — The Blonde Salad

12. Sophia Amoruso

On asking for what you want: “If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there, and sometimes putting it out there is as simple as just saying, ‘Hey, can I have that?’ ” — Girlboss

13. Anna Wintour

On being true to yourself: “Just be true to yourself, and listen as much as one is able to to other people whose opinions you respect and look up to but in the end it has to come from you. You can’t really worry too much by looking to the left and the right about what the competition is doing or what other people in your field are doing. It has to be a true vision.”

14. Ty Haney

On balance: “I have 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. completely blocked out every day. It’s a rule I cannot break. It just helps me stay grounded. The runner’s high, but a more peaceful runner’s high — I think ultimately that’s why I exercise; it’s all for my mind.” — MindBodyGreen

15. Marissa Mayer

On just getting started: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

Read these stories next:

How 7 Super Successful Women Start Their Day
How #Girlboss Sophia Amoruso Hustled Her Way to the Top
How Ann Friedman Found Freedom in Freelancing

By |2018-10-14T17:49:06+00:00June 26, 2018|Cover Story, Leadership, Productivity, Work|

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