In her best-selling book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg asks, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’’ She believes it’s fear that holds us back in our careers, not lack of opportunity.
The book might have been published a few years ago now, but it seems nothing has changed. We still need to ask ourselves the same question today.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Sometimes I ask this question of the women I work with or coach, and they answer, “I’m not afraid.”
Well, if that’s the case, what stopped you from going for that promotion, or speaking up at the meeting? What stopped you from standing up for yourself when the boss said you didn’t have enough experience to lead the team?
It’s important to stop and think about the choices we make every day, and what influenced them.
In all honesty, every single one of us is afraid at times, but too often we’re too afraid to admit it because we know we’re supposed to be brave, strong and independent.
Silly, isn’t it?
If we can’t admit to ourselves and each other that we feel fear sometimes, how can we expect to deal with it? How can we support each other as we grow?
You know, fear is something which develops over time. We’re not born afraid. We learn to be afraid of things that hurt us or threaten us in some way. So, fear isn’t something to be ashamed of; it’s a sensible response to a given situation.
The only time fear becomes a problem is when it holds you back; when you worry about failing or being rejected, being laughed at or concerned at what others think of you.
YOU are the one who chooses when to be afraid and to allow fear to stop your progress.
As a leader, you will often be afraid because the decisions you make affect your whole team. Does that mean you hesitate and refuse to move ahead? No! It means you take a deep breath and find the courage to make the best decision you can and keep forging on.
Being a leader at any level means discovering your bravery. And I do mean bravery. When you fight for what’s right or speak up about inequality or unconscious bias in the system, you’re as brave as Joan of Arc. She was probably afraid too, but she was driven by what she thought was right.
Are you prepared to admit when you’re afraid?
Are you prepared to admit that fear was behind some of your choices and inactions?
The moment you can admit it to yourself is the moment you start to blossom as a leader.
So, let me ask you, what choices are you making?
If you still struggle with the idea of fear and bravery, and their influence on your leadership behaviour, executive coaching will help you increase your self-awareness and build a career plan to overcome your hurdles. Talk to Linda today to see if executive coaching is right for you.