5 secrets of a successful woman

OK. Those of you reading this are probably thinking, “Whoa. That is a seriously pretentious title for a blog post.” And you’re right. I couldn’t hope to have amassed enough wisdom and experience in my 34 short years to know how to be successful in life. Nevertheless, I believe I’ve stumbled upon a few secrets.

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of my Great Aunt Kay. Although it was a sad time for those of us who had to say goodbye to her in this life, it was also a joyful occasion as we celebrated the memories we had with her and the legacy she left behind.


Aunt Kay spent most of her 94 years in the same humble home in the same small, rural community. Most of her days were spent caring for her husband and children and keeping house. Nowadays, that may be considered a fairly small contribution to the world. However, it was evident to all who had the privilege of knowing her that her contribution was anything but small.

I can’t think of one person who ever had an ill word to say about Aunt Kay. And when she left this world, an entire community felt the loss. So how could a woman from a modest home in the middle of nowhere have touched the lives of so many people?

During the meal after the funeral, I looked around at everyone who was sharing fond memories of Aunt Kay and I realized this was a woman who had discovered the secrets of being successful in this life. I thought about what I knew of Aunt Kay and I came up with five virtues that she exhibited regularly. If we practice the same virtues, perhaps we can leave as rich a legacy as she did.

1. Be hospitable. I wrote about how my Aunt Kay helped shape my own ideas about being a gracious hostess in my post “To entertain or not to entertain.” Aunt Kay knew how to make people feel special and welcome in her home. When we visited her, she would greet us at the porch with a big smile and hugs and kisses. Then she would start setting the table and bringing out the food and drinks. She never asked us if we wanted anything (Don’t most people say, “No,” anyway to be polite?); she just started loading up the table. Then she sat down with us to eat and seemed to genuinely enjoy our company. She always made us feel important.

2. Be humble. When we spent time with Aunt Kay, she asked us questions about ourselves and really listened with interest as we talked about the latest details of our lives. In fact, I rarely heard her talk about herself. She was modest and courteous. She displayed a real servant’s heart, epitomizing Philippians 2:3, which says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

3. Be positive. Aunt Kay always had a smile on her face, even toward the end as her earthly body was failing. I never remember Aunt Kay saying an unkind word about anyone. And I never remember hearing her complain about anything.

4. Be excellent. Aunt Kay kept a beautiful home. It wasn’t the biggest or fanciest house on the block and it wasn’t filled with the most expensive furniture or the newest gadgets. But it was clean, tidy, inviting, stocked with food, and ready to be enjoyed by her husband and children as well as extended family and friends. Above all, Aunt Kay truly understood what it meant to be a home-maker and she gave it her all, remembering that people were more important than jobs and things. She was an expert at knowing when to shift attention away from tasks and onto loved ones.

5. Be faithful. Aunt Kay was a deeply devoted Christian. She was a woman who truly feared the Lord (Proverbs 31:30). It was evident in how she lived her life and what she taught her children. As a result, her children (and grandchildren and great grandchildren) “rise up and call her blessed …” (Proverbs 31:28)

There are thousands (if not millions) of books, articles, podcasts and conferences dedicated to the topic of success. I doubt my Aunt Kay read, listened to or attended any of them. Yet she became an example of what we all strive for in life: to be loved deeply and to feel significant. Her formula for success was not complicated; it’s actually refreshingly simple.

In a world that now moves at a frenetic pace, I fear we may miss what Aunt Kay discovered: that true success is not measured by how much we accomplish, how much money we make or what fancy titles we hold. Rather, it is the result of loving and serving God and others to the best of our abilities, and by cultivating a spirit of gratitude.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child or a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is there a woman in your life you would consider successful? I’d love for you to leave me a comment and tell me about her.

I’m linking this up to Women Living Well.

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5 Responses

  1. Suzie Ovel says:

    Not to be too cliche, but I really do have to say that my mom is one of the most successful women I know. Like your aunt, she might not be “traditonally” successful, but she succeeded in raising a loving family, in epitomizing the concept of having never met a stranger, and in just being one of the most loving and caring people I know. I have a lot to learn from her when it comes to being hospitable and forgiving. (P.S. Great blog!)

  2. Sharon says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Your Aunt Kay sounds like a very special lady.

    My Mom is quite the successful lady. She kept ( and still keeps) a beautiful home: clean and food on the table. By example, she taught us girls how to be good homemakers and how to love and honor our husbands. She lives out her faith everyday. She went to work outside the home when necessary to help with finances. I’m proud of my Mom.

  3. sarah says:

    Great thoughts! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Vicki says:

    What a lovely tribute to a godly, faithful woman! It is inspiring…

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