Keys to Success

Several years ago, I kept coming across this list titled, “10 Keys to Success that Require Zero Talent”.  The “zero talent” portion of that title intrigued me and made me want to delve deeper into the meaning.  Over the years, it has become a part of my business and has also become a part of what I teach in my postpartum doula trainings. For those of you that are insecure about your career as a doula, I hope you find this list helpful:

  1. BEING ON TIME. I cannot stress more how important punctuality is. It shows respect and trustworthiness to your clients to arrive on time (early) for interviews, prenatals, births and/or scheduled postpartum shifts. Arriving early allows you to sit in your car, take some deep breaths, purge any negative thoughts and feelings so you can be fully present for your potential clients/clients. Planning your day and leaving extra time in your schedule to arrive early sets the stage for success.
  1. WORK ETHIC. When you are working, are you giving your all or are you just going through the motions? Believe it or not, most clients can tell.  As doulas, we need to be in the moment with our clients and give them our full attention, anticipating their needs, and listening without judgment.
  1. BEING PASSIONATE. Most of us get into this profession due to a true passion for supporting couples through their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences. Remember that feeling you had when you began working with your first client? It was probably full of excitement and pure joy as you joined your clients for such a life-changing time in their lives.  That enthusiasm will lead to success.
  1. ENERGY. Your level of energy is in direct correlation to your success. We tend to get stuck in our homes, our clients homes, and our cars without realizing that movement and proper nutrition is vital. Eating well, sleeping well, getting some fresh air/sun, and some form of daily exercise will help to assure that your energy level is high and therefore, you’ll be more likely to do a great job.
  1. BODY LANGUAGE. Body language is a form of non-verbal communication that can be interpreted or mis-interpreted by others. Being aware of how our body language can come across to clients is important for doulas.  Are you making eye contact when they are speaking to you? Are your arms folded when they’re telling you about their feelings?  Are you showing your feelings on your face when you are in disagreement with a choice they are making?  If you said yes to any of these things, you will need to be more conscientious about your body language and practice neutrality.
  1. ATTITUDE. You’ve heard the expression, “attitude is everything”! It really does determine whether you have a good day or a bad day, and it also determines your success. New parents can feel your emotions, so if you’re bringing a negative attitude with you to work because you fought with your significant other that day, that energy will transfer to your work.  Being able to arrive to your client’s early so that you can meditate or pray before you join them, can help give you the attitude adjustment you need.
  1. KEEPING AN OPEN MIND. If the way you are doing things are not bringing you the success you desire, be open minded enough to accept change and be receptive to new ideas. Things and people change, constantly, and we must be willing to be fluid and make adjustments to the way our clients communicate and addressing their needs. Open your mind and watch your business grow.
  1. COACHABLE. Getting feedback from other professionals, with more experience than you, can help in your success. Instead of getting defensive or taking criticism negatively, try to hear the advice with an open heart and mind so that you can grow.
  1. DOING THE EXTRA WORK. Are you doing the bare minimum in your career? Are you just skating by and wondering why you don’t have as many clients as others?  In this industry, you must always do more, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and take additional courses/trainings to expand your skill set.  Doing the extra work that others are unwilling to, will set you apart and help ensure success.
  1. BEING PREPARED. “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. Being as prepared as possible relieves stress and makes you look and feel professional.  Taking a training, creating professional documents, designing your own website and promotional materials, practicing interviewing skills, and creating a realistic schedule is all part of being prepared to run a successful business. Preparation is key!

While the above list may not require “talent”, they do require skills. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep challenging yourself.  Success is yours!

Darla Burns


Darla has been supporting women and families as a birth doula since 1990 and was certified by DONA in 2003. Finding that she also loved working with the families after they delivered, she then became a CAPPA certified postpartum doula in 2004. Soon thereafter, she became a certified childbirth educator and lactation educator. Her love of working with families and sharing her knowledge with others led her to her position as a faculty member for CAPPA. When she’s not doing doula work, she spends her time with her husband and two great kids.

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2 thoughts on “Keys to Success”

  1. Dear Darla, I love your article and all of it is so very true. I can’t decide which of the 10 I like the most so I will sayy all ring true. Thank yo for always sharing all you have to give. Have a wonderful holiday with your family Darla.

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