The first time I heard the phrase “Lean in” was a few weeks ago when a friend and colleague asked me to submit my own “leaning in” story to be published on Sheryl Sandberg’s new online community, LeanIn.org. It didn’t take me long to capture the essence of the movement Sheryl is creating through her site and book: encouraging women to stop taking steps back, or leaning back, from the moments and opportunities of growth — both personal and professional — that we encounter and that encounter us. She challenges us to completely “lean in” to those moments without hesitation of what we can’t do, but with full acceptance and confidence of what we can do.
The challenge in front of me when I was introduced to the Lean In movement was to find that moment in my life when I had leaned in and reflect upon it. We all have those moments when we’ve taken the bull by the horns and changed our destiny just by changing our thoughts and taking action. It can be in our life as a daughter, a friend, a mother, a career woman, a wife. The moment is there because it’s what has propelled us forward time and time again.
I realized I have had many of those lean in moments in small bursts, but none as strong and defining as the one I had when my one and only daughter was 9 months old and the recession hit our house just when we were the most vulnerable. Both my husband and I were living in denial of what was happening to us and just how bad it could get, so it was obvious it was all going to have to explode one day; and it did. Sharing the details of that encounter with my husband, the depth of my resentment, the soul searching it prompted and how I leaned into the chaos to rebuild from the ashes was something I eventually had to do online. It’s important to me that other women realize that what may appear as a success story from the outside actually has a backstory that is more often than not fueled from a moment when we had to lean in with all our might and embrace chaos, fear and acceptance.
I have now built a business based on the motto that I created: “If one grows, we all grow.” I truly believe women must lean in to grow themselves first, to be able to lead by example and inspire the rest to lean in as well. Grow and help grow. Believe in this being your moment. Believe that you have everything it takes in this precise moment to lean in. Believe that life/the Universe/God will only hand you what you are capable of doing — usually more than we think we are capable of. Trust … and lean in.
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