leaning back

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  1. 1. 76 | BUSINESS CHICKS LATTE REFOCUS A n article encouraging leaning back from your goals this year seems incongruous. Isnt this the time of new beginnings? A time of fresh opportunities? In 2013, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, was released to significantfanfare.Themessagesinthisbookbecamethe focus of talkback radio, news reports and numerous magazine articles. Last year, Rosa Brooks, a law professor who served as a counsellor to the US undersecretary of defence and a US State Department senior adviser, wrote in the Washington Post, Long ago, before Sandbergs book Lean In convinced me to change my ways, I had a life. I had friends, family and children. I had hobbies. I had a job, too, of course, but I also took occasional vacations, knocked off work at a sensible hour and got eight hours of sleep each night. Then I read Lean In and realised that I was a self-sabotaging slacker. Rosa shares in her article how she stepped up at work, accepting invitations to speak at conferences and media requests, and writing articles. She leant in at home, too, helping out in her childrens classroom, hosting a mother-daughter book club, and making school lunches that were organic and packed in eco-friendly containers. She acknowledged seeing the rewards of leaning in and achieving the bigger and bigger goals she set for herself and then she realised she hated Sheryl Sandberg. Why? Because, of course, I was miserable. I never saw my friends, because I was too busy building my network. I was too tired to do any creative, outside-the-box thinking. I was boxed in. STEPPING BACK TO MOVE FORWARD As an executive and leadership coach who works with women who everyday are stepping up, pushing harder, driving forward and taking risks, Rosa Brooks story sounds very familiar. As a coach, my job is not to provide answers but to ask questions that encourage deep reflection and consideration.When leaning in becomes the topic of conversation in coaching sessions, the question I ask is, How can you lean in without toppling over? Forget leaning in Premium member Jo Bassett says 2015 should be the year of taking a step back. L E A N I N G BACK LAT_076-077 lean in.indd 76 2/7/15 3:29 PM
  2. 2. FEB/MAR | 77 This is where leaning back is important. Leaning back creates space. Leaning back makes room. Leaning back provides the counterbalance, enabling you to shift your focus from goals that are hurting you, and lean in towards those experiences and goals that move you closer to your vision of success, full a need that you have identied and provide a sense of satisfaction. Leaning back is harder than leaning in. Stories of women leading organisations, raising children, exercising every day and hosting elaborate dinner parties while looking immaculate are all around us. We hear these stories and think if we pushed hard we too could be ticking all of those boxes. Some of the more ery client sessions I have is when the topic of leaning back becomes a focus. This is where I will ask questions like, Are your goals serving you or are you serving your goals? What price are you willing to pay to achieve your goals? What are you giving up to achieve success with these goals? Leaning back from goals that are hurting you requires taking a spotlight and shining it into places that are usually avoided; questioning long-heldassumptions.Formanywomen,decidingtoleanbackrequires facing anxieties and fears head-on. Fears about what other people will be thinking. Anxieties aroundwhowillbeletdown.Fearsthatfocuson what opportunities will be missed or doors that will be forever closed on career and professional opportunities. A client of mine, Vivienne, is in her thirties and had been nancially independent since her late teens. She had a solid investment portfolio and had transitioned successfully through a variety of careers. Vivienne thrived on stepping up and taking on new challenges. She set herself a goal of establishing a start-up business consultancy. After 12 months of giving 110%toachievehergoal,sherecognisedthatthe cost she was paying for success was too high. My daughters, who were well cared for by a live-in nanny, were wanting more time with me, she says. And after being single for several years I was also in a new relationship that was beginning to stall and I was going backwards nancially. Vivienne faced her fears head-on and leant back. It wasnt easy; I wasnt one to walk away from a challenge. She accepted a government position that she approached with a different focus. I wanted to do what was required of the role and not much more and make room for hobbies, exercise and family. I had previously represented Australia in sport and that part of my life had slipped. The outcome for Vivienne? Within 12 months she hadbeenfast-trackedontoanacceleratedtalent- leadershipprogramandpromotedandonthe home front was planning a wedding. Now I can see that what I did when I made that decision to lean back was to let go of a goal that was hurting me, she says. People often quote Nietzsches famous saying, That which does not kill youcanonlymakeyoustronger.Buttherealityisthat,whileyourchosen activity might not kill you, it might do enough damage that you end up hurt as a result. Here are some strategies to tackle anxieties and fears that come with leaning back NEGATIVE SELF-TALK At a Business Chicks Breakfast last year, Alisa Camplin commented that if the voices inside our head said those same things outside they would be up on bullying charges. Negative self-talk is corrosive at best and at worst becomes a truth. Lean back from negativity and criticism by acknowledging the negative self-talk comment briey and follow up with, This thought is not adding value, I will let it pass, and make room for condence and encouragement. CHASING In the pursuit of goals, the focus can quickly become, what am I doing next? Instead of, what is this goal doing for me? The result of intensely focusing on the action plan is disconnection with the motivation for setting the goal. Put aside one day a week where you replace doing with reecting on how your goals add value to your life and make room for clarity. DISAPPOINTMENT There was once a time where disappointment and I were strongly connected. My friend and I used to joke that our simple denition of disappointment was when our expectations didnt meet reality, and at that stage of my life I felt that there was a signicant gap between what I believed I deserved and reality. Despite my efforts, I wasnt achieving what I wanted from the goals that I had set. I was focused on the gap that existed between where I was and what I wanted. Lean back from disappointment by putting aside three minutes to celebrate your progress (no matter how small) by writing a list of what has been achieved at the end of each working week I call these Champagne Friday moments and make room for celebration and recognition of what youve done. JUDGEMENT Last year, Oscar-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett revealed that she felt judged by other mothers during the school drop-off who questioned why she couldnt brush her hair. Why do we care? Specically, why do women care so much about what other people think? Lean back from judgement by identifying three people whose opinion matters to you (this may change from scenario to scenario). Seek out theirviewsandturndownthevolumeonother perceived or real voices of judgement, and make room for self-assuredness and self-trust. EXPECTATIONS There is a ne line between expectation and aspiration. Aspirations are hopes, desires a wish to achieve something. Expectations carry assumptions, predictions and anticipation. Goals that were set or opportunities that were taken that were once aspirational can end being burdened by the weight of expectation. Passion and excitement are replaced by shoulds and musts.Leanbackfromexpectationbygettingtogetheronceamonthwith asmallgroupoffriendsorpeersandeachtakingaturntorecogniseaquality that they have noticed each individual person in the group demonstrate that month. Note the positive difference it made, and make room for acceptance and self-acknowledgement. How I leant back Juliette Wright, social entrepreneur, founder and CEO ofcharity GIVIT. In 2010, nine months a er Julie e launched GIVIT, where people can donate near-new or gently used items directly to charities that were supporting people in need, a series of devastating oods hit Queensland and 200,000 people were aected. The need for GIVIT services skyrocketed in a way Julie e could not have anticipated. I was writing over 2,000 emails a day to ensure people in urgent need got exactly what they needed, she says. GIVITbecame the state governments ocial website for matching donors and recipients with 1.8 million hits resulting in 33,500 goods matched in three weeks. I believed if I stopped working things would not happen, and people would suer. But I wasnt sleeping more than a couple of hours before waking up. I was frenetic and ge ing sick. I noticed that people were leaning back from me friends, family and volunteers! I remember the moment that I decided to surrender and let it all go. I wrote a hearty le er to the team telling them I required immediate stress leave. I went to my naturopath and joined a yoga group with friends. In making the decision to lean back, I created the space for my vision to ourish and my goals were achieved faster than anticipated and more. Last year Julie e launched GIVIT Kids,a safe website for children to give new or pre-loved belongings. Since then, she won the 2015 Queensland Local Hero award and went on to be honoured as the Australian of the Year Local Hero for 2015. Shes proof that stepping back can drive you forward. givit.org.au JO BASSETT IS HEAD COACH AT LIVING SAVVY COACHING JOBASSETTCOM TWITTER @LIVINGSAVVY OR FACEBOOK COM/LIVINGSAVVY JO IS A PREMIUM MEMBER OF BUSINESS CHICKS REQUEST HER ONLINE BUSINESS CARD AND CONNECT W