The Rare Combination Of Traits That Make Women Successful In Career & In Love

Cute older couple on the beach

Unlocking a flourishing love life and a thriving career can feel like navigating a maze of dos and don’ts. There is no single definition of success. The journey is different for every woman.

Some women mistakenly believe the key to success requires putting on a tough exterior, wearing a shield of invincibility, or adopting an air of closed-off strength — typically masculine traits. On the contrary, success doesn’t demand you hide the softer parts of yourself.

Success isn’t about confirming stereotypes — neither acting demure and uncertain nor adopting a tough persona. It’s about revealing who you are and what you want, persevering through every challenge, and achieving success to leave you fulfilled, inspired, and in sync with who you are.

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The magic combination of traits that makes women successful? vulnerability and determination.

Vulnerability for the strong bond to foster trust.

Often misunderstood as a weakness or exposing yourself to harm, vulnerability is the courageous act of being open, authentic, and transparent with another about your thoughts and emotions.

In her groundbreaking TedTalk, Brene Brown described how people numb vulnerability. There is no question that it’s hard. But as she shares from her research, “For connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.’ Women who allow themselves to be vulnerable and imperfect find belonging and connection to and with others.

But being vulnerable doesn’t mean you don’t set healthy boundaries or blurt out sensitive details or feelings with just anyone. In his book Getting Naked, Dr. Patrick Williams writes about revealing yourself at the right place and time with the right people.

In love, when women loosen their guard and freely give their trust, it can open them up to experiences with a partner who enriches their lives. For women seeking love, being vulnerable might look like signing up for a dating app or asking a friend to introduce them to someone. Putting yourself out there and risking rejection or criticism can be scary. It can also bring you unexpected rewards and success!

In a committed relationship, this could be sharing difficult feelings or something unconventional they’ve always dreamt of doing. I had a client who told her partner that she couldn’t do another day of her corporate job, and she’d always wanted to start her own photography business. She had been afraid to tell anyone, but in finally being vulnerable, her husband learned how much pain she was in and what fulfilling this dream could mean to her. They devised a plan to support their mutual benefit.

In the workplace, vulnerability can be a catalyst for effective change to get individual needs met. In Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, trust is predicated on vulnerability, and for the team to thrive, the leader needs to display vulnerability first. Humility is an critical ingredient, too. Being candid about challenges and uncertainties and identifying your gaps in knowledge or experience opens the doors for others to support and collaborate.



According to research conducted by the Centre for Creative Leadership, “When trust is present, people step forward and do their best work together efficiently. They align around a common purpose, take risks, think outside the box, have each other’s backs, and communicate openly and honestly.” This results in individual success and team success, and this is the kind of success that brings a woman big wins in the workplace and over her career.

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Determination to propel women toward their goals.

Determination is the driving force in career success. It’s the unwavering commitment to achieving goals, overcoming challenges, and embracing growth.

Women who can navigate challenges with determination build enduring relationships rooted in resilience and mutual support. In love, determination helps weather the storms together. An infertility diagnosis, a lost job, or a debilitating accident might break a woman – and put extreme pressure on a couple. However, a partner who witnesses a woman’s determination can be inspired to go the distance. Two determined people are stronger than one.   


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Determination also supports a woman’s success at work. You might notice it as setting challenging goals, a strong work ethic, and continuous effort, but it’s more than that. Determined women tackle challenges head-on, continually pushing themselves toward career success — whether climbing the ladder or traversing the lattice. They take commitment seriously, lead confidently, and inspire others to do the same.

Any woman who can pick herself up and keep going despite the speed bumps will succeed. Determined women will figure it out and make it happen

cheerful woman with hands raised pointing up

Photo: mimagephotography via Shutterstock

The beauty in paradox

Seemingly disparate soft and fierce traits, vulnerability and determination are the ultimate power duo, synergistically to support a woman’s success in any sphere. The courage of vulnerability provides the opening to building trust and commitment, and determination paves the way to reach a woman’s goals regardless of the odds. Vulnerability strengthens determination, and determination requires vulnerability.

Whether you’re building a fulfilling career or nurturing a connection with a life partner, success is in your hands, waiting to be defined on your terms with vulnerability and determination on your side.

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Lisa Petsinis is an ICF-credentialed career and life coach who works with women who want to show up fully for their lives and build lasting life skills – like confidence and resilience – that will help them achieve their career and life goals.