There has been a lot written recently about women’s innate ability to lead. One reason that is consistently mentioned is that women are more risk adverse than men. Many thought leaders believe that because women are more cautious, they make better decisions. I believe there is some validity in this especially if you look at the recent events on Wall Street. It’s only speculation of course, but there is a widely held opinion that if there was more diversity at the leadership and board level, this current economic crisis might have been averted. Who knows?

Can this cautious outlook sometimes work against us? It is possible, in my opinion, to be so cautious that you never move forward in your business or career. Being overly cautious can paralyze you.

Almost every major milestone in my own career has been due to me taking an enormous leap of faith and trying something new; something perhaps I was not totally prepared for but decided to embrace regardless. When a door opened, I ran through it and never worried how I would master what was required to be successful in this new opportunity. I’m not saying that every time I took a risk, it worked out well. There have been times that I have fallen flat on my face. When this happens, it’s important to dust yourself off, gather your wits about you, and start all over again. In other words, never let your failures prevent you from learning a lesson, picking yourself up, and seizing the next opportunity that comes along with the same passion and energy.

What is the essential ingredient we all need to have in order to take a risk? Self confidence! Self confidence fuels your persistence and determination and helps propel you through any open door. In fact, with enough self confidence, you won’t even wait until a door of opportunity opens for you, you’ll go find it!

It’s critical for your success, whether you are an entrepreneur or corporate professional, to periodically connect with your value and talent to establish and grow your foundation of self confidence. This, in my opinion, is the secret to success.

We need to periodically connect with our value and talent because we often take our accomplishments for granted. We lose that connection to what is unique and wonderful about us. Do whatever it takes to honor your accomplishments and ability. One suggestion I make repeatedly is to keep a success journal and record all your accomplishments and review your entries each week, celebrate your achievements, and think about what these successes say about you. This will fuel your self confidence and your ability to take on new opportunities, which, in turn, will lead to career and business success.

Self confidence is the secret of success.