Truth and Dare: If You Weren’t Afraid, What Would You Do?

BlogHer Original Post

“Writing this book is what I would do if I weren’t afraid.”
~ Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, pp 25-27.

How about you: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? With any part of your life–-personal, professional, voice, heart, body and/or soul?

Let’s take a quick sidebar: You may wonder what Sheryl Sandberg, who keynoted BlogHer ’13, has to fear. Ms. Sandberg wrote #1 bestseller Lean In just after taking Facebook public as Chief Operating Officer and, before that, making her let’s-call-it sayonara money as a Google executive. What’s she got to be afraid of?

Sheryl SandbergImage: © BlogHer 2013

Plenty. When I first picked up the book, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it sure wasn’t Ms. Sandberg’s outspoken criticism of a system she’s beating. For a Fortune Most Powerful Woman Lister, public company COO and HBS grad, she’s a radical. Far from sounding like a defender of corporate and public systems, Sandberg decries the paltry percentages of women in leadership positions as a societal flaw, while urging women to change our internal monologues in order to win at a game in which, she acknowledges, the deck is stacked against us. I think it took ovaries of titanium for Double-S to make these blunt, unapologetic statements in full view of working women who lack her resources, as well as Wall Street and Silicon Valley boardrooms (many run by her fellow Harvard/Harvard Business School grads):

  • "We have to admit something that is sad but true: Men run the world."
  • "If current trends continue, fifteen years from today, about one-third of the women in this audience [at Harvard Business School] will be working full-time and almost all of you will be working for the guy you are sitting next to. …If you want the outcome to be different you will have to do something about it."
  • "I understand the paradox of advising women to change the world by adhering to biased rules and expectations."

If anything, I concluded the book convinced that I had done the right thing by abandoning corporate media to co-found BlogHer.

SO: Is fear holding you back from something you’d like to accomplish? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Do you agree or disagree that fear is at the root of many barriers women face?

I hope you’ll answer back. This is a conversation we women have to keep having! Until the day that we don’t. Thanks.

And please let me know in the comments your answer to this question: If I weren’t afraid, I would...

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