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Lean In

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 What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I am currently reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. Her message is simple: women can have a seat at the table if they choose to sit there. She argues that we hold ourselves back from higher achievement because of societal stigmas and our nature to be communal and help others. But often, we just don’t acknowledge and stand up for our own worth. I had to admit, I’ve been a culprit of this in my own career. As an early-stage entrepreneur, now more than ever, I must seek out challenges, take risks, and pursue my passions fully; I must be clear on my vision and stay true to it; I must know my strengths and how to use them. I must not be afraid. This starts with constantly telling myself that I am worthy of greatness and owning it.

The other day I was consulting a dear friend about taking on a new opportunity even though I had no extra time. As made obvious from past posts, this is a recurring theme with me. I’m a people-pleaser, and I have a wide range of skills. I also get asked to contribute to a lot of special projects and opportunities. While this is flattering and definitely makes me feel worthwhile, I realize that I’ve allowed it to dictate how I spend my time. I often find myself getting caught up in the prospect of short-term opportunities and losing sight of my own priorities. I tend to find it easier to focus on someone else’s dreams and not my own. Sometimes I think I’m afraid to pursue my own greatness, so I “busy” myself with other things I’m good at. I am quickly realizing that being busy is no excuse for plain old hard work. I need to get back to my vision. I need to own the creation of my dreams.

So as my friend was asking me all the hard questions to help me decide if should pursue this opportunity, she gave me a piece of advice that rang loud and clear: know your worth. Give of yourself, but also stand up for you. Value your time and your abilities, and people will too. For example, my boyfriend is a web developer and highly sought after, but he prices his hourly rate high enough to attract work that is compelling and to work with people who are committed. I never quite understood the value in this until I began teaching yoga and corporate wellness. While I never did these things for the money, I realize now that my time and talents are worth a lot. And when I highly value myself and the services I provide, I feel the power of my own worth in delivering them. I declare my greatness, and I want to be great. And then, I am great. It’s a victorious cycle.

However, just knowing your worth isn’t enough. Recognizing your talents and strengths is one thing, but what you do with them is the key. And here’s where Sandberg’s battle cry rings so true to me: lean in. Don’t be afraid to ask for things. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Don’t be afraid to show your worth to the world. Because when you do, you and everyone around you is lifted up. If we all pursue this course of action, the world will be a much better place.

So now, I am making a commitment to know my worth and lean in.

As I am working towards creating a fulfilling career and life, here are the lessons I am learning:

  1. Invest in the long-term you. Create and refine your brand. Stay focused but nimble, and don’t get sidetracked by short-term opportunities.
  2. Get clear on your vision. This helps you identify opportunities that get you closer to achieving this vision and also helps you learn when to say no.
  3. Claim back your time. There will always be requests that come your way. Don’t do things to the detriment of your own growth.
  4. Give of yourself, but hold the line. Use your skills to teach others to fish. But seek to empower not just to help.
  5. Make the ask. One of the best mantras I’ve heard recently is, “Don’t ask, don’t get!” If you want a higher salary, a promotion, or a new role, be vocal. No one else will vouch for you, and the worse they can say is no.
  6. Accept praise and own your accomplishments. Instead of attributing your success to external factors or the help of others, say thank you the next time someone compliments your work. Own it.

So if your dreams seem huge and daunting, stand firm in your greatness. And when things seem unclear, and you don’t know how to proceed, lean in. Because every day should be a dream come true. Live a life that is worth living. Because you are worth it.

    2 COMMENTS

  • Erica April 15, 2013 Reply

    Love this post. What you’ve said strikes a chord with me because I, too, need to learn to be my own advocate. My friend recommended this book to me recently and your post really motivates me to get it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    • sherrienguyen April 15, 2013 Reply

      Awesome, Erica, I’m glad to hear! It’s been a controversial book but doesn’t need to be if you take to heart what speaks to you and leave the rest. Enjoy :)

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