Lean in was part of a speech Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook presented at the Barnard College commencement. Barnard College educates nearly 2,400 undergraduate women. What did she mean by lean in? Lean in means to incline or press into something.
Here is an excerpt of her speech, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” She went on to say, “Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face and there will be barriers be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold. I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try. Ask yourself, what would I do if I weren’t afraid?” And then go do it!” She was encouraging women, but this can apply to everyone.
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” What is it about fear that keeps us from doing something we say we want to do? Why do we give fear so much power over us? Fear is okay when it keeps you out of dark alleys, bad neighborhoods or away from the edge of the cliff. Everything else should be under consideration. Fear makes us think twice about what you are going to do. That is good! It makes us research more, check with professionals and think it through, but it should not stop us.
For all you thrill seekers who jump off buildings, or out of planes, you can skip this section. Failure is pretty intimidating and downright scary! Frankly, I do not know anyone who wants to fail. There is a large group of people who overcome fear every day. We all have fears and insecurities that make us think twice about something. What is life’s biggest fear? I believe it is public speaking. Fear is sometimes confused with being nervous. Most people are afraid or nervous because they want to do well.
How do you overcome this fear or nervousness? Confidence is not just a word. Confident people prepare for opportunities. They research, practice, investigate alternatives and then go for it. What do you need to do to feel confident? Making a decision means looking at alternatives. Put together a list of benefits and consequences to help you make your decision. Start small and grow as your confidence grows.
What is the consequence of not taking a risk? Yes, you can take the safe route in life, but you miss out on the rewards of risk too. Opportunities offer rewards and risks; the biggest risks generally have the biggest rewards. What opportunity did you turn down because of fear? If your dream was to be self employed, you have to take a risk. You may have to invest time, money and make that leap!
What drives you to overcome your fear? Is it ambition, determination or preparation? For me, ambition may start me off, but it is determination coupled with preparation that gets me through my fear. Recognize fear as a good response to new things and work with it. How do you react to new things? Successful people try new things and they are prepared for change. They prepare by practicing skills and acquiring new ones to meet the challenges of new things.
Overcoming your fear is just part of what is needed to succeed! If your fear prevents you from trying to accomplish your dream, you are letting your internal barriers keep you from your goal. You need to step up your effort to overcome the challenge. This is when self discipline or ambition takes over and you apply the effort to succeed. If you never try, you can never succeed.
What are you afraid of? Is it failure? If you let your fear prevent you from trying, you will not succeed. How do you overcome your fear? I prepare myself, get the skills I need, research and press forward. Making that effort can overcome any fear. Successful people make mistakes, fail and stumble, but they don’t let that stop them from succeeding. They learn from their mistakes and apply what you learned to succeed. We call that continuous improvement! It is up to you to decide what effort you bring to a challenge.
Some people work on the fear aspect, others just work on the task or goal itself. Either way, in order to succeed, you must be willing to make the effort to succeed. You are responsible for your success and failure. I wrote an article called “What is your next step” reveals my ambitions, but it also shows how I concentrate on goals versus fears. Successful people processes fear differently that other people. They use it to help them succeed. What are you going to do? Lean in and make the effort to succeed!
Photo by: dryhead