Leaning In, Hard

leaning-in-hard-galit-breen-sizedThe room is full, live, loud.

Round tables covered in white tablecloths polka dot the space framed by open doors, a large stage, and (what feels like) a larger screen.

I fill my plate and take my seat, new friends and old by my side.

One introduces herself before she even sits down, buffet plate in hand. Her auburn hair grazing bare, strong shoulders, one hand wrapped around a coffee mug, the other outstretched. She connects quickly, efficiently, warmly. I know she sees this as her stretch, I see it is her strength.

To my other side, another friend sits back, takes in the room, the noise, the women. She eats quietly and speaks softly. Her commentary is ridiculously smart, insightful, and eloquent. She notes things in ways that make you want to listen. Her smile is warm, her laugh is rich, her words are golden.  She’s humble and I wonder if she realizes any of these truths.

I had the incredible honor of hearing Lean In’s Sheryl Sandberg speak at BlogHer this weekend. She’s powerful and intelligent, eloquent and vibrant. She knows her message and she owns her audience. She speaks about women owning their dreams, their what ifs, their If I wasn’t afraid, I woulds… We’re all listening.

Set aside fear, name your dream, work hard, be kind, work harder.

My mind is turning with my own what ifs. I can practically hear all of our collective wheels churning. It’s powerful sitting shoulder to shoulder with women pondering a shift, a change, a dive into New.

Across the table, I see a third friend doing just this. Her pretty face is tilted to the screen. She’s open to possibility. Her expression is the perfect blend of soft and fierce that I believe is required for true success.

Sheryl Sandberg’s message rings in the back of my mind as I try to wrap my brain around success and failure, defining and redefining both, and what it takes to truly put fear aside.

Her book and her site and her message detail the how-to, and while I know that the puzzle pieces will fall into place differently for each of us depending on our stories, and our ways – I think the framework is the same.

We have to be willing to let go of fear, place it in our hands, set it down, turn our backs to it. Yes, we have to start here.

But then, we have to be willing to clearly know what we want, name it, and own it.

Not an aspiring writer with a small voice and a weak adjective, but a Writer with an uppercase W and that is all.

Not a new-ish runner with a sheepish gaze and an ode to all of the other better, faster, more “real” athletes, but a Runner training for a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon.

You have to own your dreams to make them come true, set aside your fears and clarify what it is you want and name it. Then research the hell out of what you want to do and one step at a time, work toward it. 

Set aside fear, name your dream, work hard, be kind, work harder.

I truly believe this is the “magic formula” we can all use no matter what our fear, dream, and ways puzzles look like. We have this in common, let’s churn shoulder to shoulder, building each other up along the way, face tilted to possibility. Leaning in is the only way. 

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Leaning In, Hard

Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development and was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her h ... More

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