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My secret for rising to the C-suite

November 29, 2014, 4:00 PM UTC
Courtesy of Ruder Finn, Inc.

MPW Insider is one of several online communities where the biggest names in business answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How can women rise to the C-suite? is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

In my experience, inspiration is the difference between success and failure in work and in life, and is a key deciding factor for those who rise to the C-suite. You have to be passionate about what you do and never slip into a feeling of complacency. The most successful women in business have an insatiable hunger deep inside; a hunger for knowledge, for personal improvement and deep challenges that stretch abilities in ways that at first might seem impossible.

This often means living with some pain and discomfort – putting yourself in situations that are unfamiliar, signing up for assignments that seem out of your reach and taking risks – all of which ultimately amount to exposing yourself to potential failures. This all feels and sounds scary! But these moments are actually when you learn the most; when you push yourself the hardest and achieve what seemed like the unachievable. Moments of potential failure are when leaders are at their best.

Especially today when markets and industries are changing so fast, you must have the courage to go beyond pushing boundaries, to question yourself, to be willing to disrupt how you think and how you execute. Being inspired and believing in a purpose is a sign of true leadership. It empowers teams, it makes tough goals reachable, and it is, in my view, the secret path to the C-suite.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How can women rise to the C-suite?

How working moms can rise to the C-suite by Tracy Brady, VP of Agency Communications for Hill Holiday.

How failure could get you to the C-suite by Angélica Fuentes, CEO of Omnilife.

Why hard work won’t get you to the C-suite by Stephanie Ruhle, Editor-at-Large, Bloomberg News and Anchor/Managing Editor, BloombergTV.

How can women rise to the C-suite? by Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.