There are are a few things I’ve done in my life that others have thought were brave — going to college without a financial safety net and believing that somehow I would find the money, moving at the drop of a hat to “exotic” places, like Utica and Wichita, where I knew no one, for jobs in broadcasting that I hoped would advance my journalism career.
They didn’t seem brave to me at the time, but I guess in a way they were fearless in a naive sort of way — I did them just assuming that they would work out. And for the most part they did.
But there are plenty of other things where fear has played a huge factor in my decision-making process and I regret some of those, like staying in a job that gave me financial security even though it made me physically ill and staying too long in an abusive and dysfunctional first marriage.
As women, I think we often say we want change, but we find ourselves at a loss when it comes to finding the courage and momentum to act on our desires — changes for our physical and mental well-being, new and different career paths, more satisfying personal relationships or creating a better world to live in.
While there are many books on the self-help shelves (or what was called Personal Growth in the movie When Harry Met Sally) that claim they will help transform our lives, in On Becoming Fearless, Arianna Huffington has written about dealing with fear in a common sense way — it’s not a lecture or purported expert-tutorial as many volumes are, but rather, it’s a look by one woman about how she dealt with her own insecurities and fears to achieve a certain level of fearlessness that she believes could be powerful for other women in creating their own opportunities and success.
What made this book worth reading for me was that it felt like a personal coversation.
Yes, Huffington talks about her triumphs, but not in a way that makes you feel like she’s trumpeting her own horn about all her success. Instead, her revelations come across as a chat you might have with your best friend or neighbor as they tell you proudly about a special accomplishment — happy, inspired, gratified and hopeful.
Perhaps, more importantly, I get the sense that Arianna Huffington is quietly, but firmly, laying the groundwork for a fearlessness revolution. She’s already turned fearlessness into a conversation over at her blog that is growing exponentially.
If we transform our fear in different areas of our lives, what could we create? What if we, as women, all took back a little of the fear we put out there in our daily lives? What if we acted as if we were fearless, even when we’re not?
Huffington suggests that such an “epidemic of fearlessness” could help prompt some of the social change we’d like to see, not just for ourselves, but for our daughters, as well.
It might be obvious, but in her chapter entitled, Fearless About Leadership and Speaking Out: The Power of One, Huffington remarks:
“Before women can lead, we have to confront one of our worst fears: speaking out in the world. Sure, many men are afraid of speaking out, too. But it’s different for women. Nothing makes us more visible and therefore more subject to the criticisms specifically reserved for women in power. Every time we speak out, we might as well slap a target on our backs.”
“Yet it’s impossible to be a leader if we’re not willing to publicly stand up for what we believe. This is clearly a fear women have to learn to overcome. And I know from personal experience that it can be done.”
I think she’s right and I wonder if that’s where all of us women bloggers, including those in the so-called mommy blogosphere, should take her up on her challenge?
I had a chance to pose a few questions to Ms. Huffington for this review. I asked her whether all this blogging that women seem to do could be a good first step toward becoming more fearless in speaking out about issues we care about. In response, she said:
“I do think the blogging revolution will encourage more women to express their opinions. Once they have, and once they start getting the immediate feedback you get with blogging, it will be hard to put the ‘speaking out genie’ back in the bottle.”
I think she’s right. If you’re ready for some inspiration, spend some time with On Becoming Fearless.
Then we can start the revolution.
Want to win a free copy of On Becoming Fearless? Leave me a comment about your most fearless life moment. I’ll pick one person from the commenters to receive a paperback copy! Also, if you want to win an autographed copy, get the details here at MotherTalk and you can be well on your way to becoming “fearless!”