Sunday, 14 January 2018

Life Lessons for workplace anxiety from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

One of my January reads this year was the inspiring and motivational Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg draws on her own life experiences from her successful career, juggling motherhood, and the women she has observed in workplaces over the years to give us a detailed account of how women can should and need to lean in to their careers.

The book details 'the leadership gap' where men still hold the higher-level, better-paid positions in workplaces around the world. Sandberg acknowledges the barriers that continue to hold women back and force them out of workplaces, such as motherhood. It's been five years since Lean In was published and nothing has changed. Gender inequality still exists in the workplace.
"...women are hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self- confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in." 
And having anxiety is just another one of these barriers - where your self-doubt, inabilities and insecurities can play over and over - that often holds people back from reaching their goals whether in the workplace or in their personal life.

Lean In is the perfect New Year read. If there's a better book to set a woman up career-wise for the year ahead, I want to know.

I found myself nodding along and marking up sentences and paragraphs to come back to. There was so much I could relate to in my own workplace. But there was also so much I felt I could learn from and put into practice too. I want to share some of these bits with you today.

To help me build my own confidence in work, and reduce work-related anxiety.

Here are my key life lessons to tackle workplace anxiety from from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

Allow yourself to be upset; but then move on.
I love this advice. Sandberg emphasises the importance of acknowledging your sadness, of feeling left out or let down, but also how it's paramount to your mental health to move on.
Okay, okay so this one is not only the first but by far the hardest lesson for me. Moving on is not something I am particularly good at, but I reckon I can start to learn this skill in the workplace. While I love my job, I also find it easier to emotionally detach from work than from most things in my personal life. So where better to learn to move on from being upset? It's okay to be upset, but it's also important to remember that everyone is human, and humans have flaws and make mistakes. Do not hold grudges.

Find the middle ground. 
I feel like I talk too much in team meetings. It's something I've started to become aware of, and anxious about, over the past months. And it's making me self-conscious. Thankfully, this is something Sandberg covered really well in her book having had a similar problem. She suggests that instead you find the middle ground. Instead of butting in when another colleague is asked a question; bite your tongue and feel like you're not speaking enough. Don't butt in and give your opinion unless it's asked for in these circumstances. She also says that the people who feel like they do the opposite in meetings and never speak up should feel like they speak too much. Don't take over, but don't be walked over either.

Seize all opportunities.
"...opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized." Anxiety in the workplace can make you doubt yourself and hold your back. This is particular evident when new opportunities come along. Whether it's a taking on a new role or a promotion, self-doubt can stop you moving forward in your career.  Not only that, but sometimes you have to create a new role for yourself and make your own opportunities to progress. It's not an easy thing to do, but I can make a start. I can put my name forward when a new work comes in, I can actively seek training and courses. I can try to learn new skills that will not only benefit me, but my workplace.

Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships.
It's only week three of the New Year, but I'm already getting practice with this one. I've always been the type of person who went to work to work, not to make friends. I'd get on with my work, what I'm good at, rather than socialising, that which I'm not good at. At the same time, I would worry about what all my colleagues thought of me and distress over how much better they seem to get along with each other than with me. But New Year, New Me. I decided to make more of an effort, and not only that, but to tell my colleagues more about my life. Sandberg says we are more motivated to work with people we care about. So be human with your colleagues. It's okay to talk about your personal life and to be personable.

Be authentic not perfect.
I am, always have been and always will be, a perfectionist. But deep down I also know this is not realistic. Perfection does not exist. It's not easy to change your mindset and stop aiming for perfection. But it is healthy to focus on your authenticity rather than how you failed to be perfect. Being yourself, not putting up a front, and admitting your mistakes and faults is more endearing and human to your colleagues and will get you much further than pretending to be perfect.

Have you read Lean In? What did you think? Do you think these tips could help you tackle workplace anxiety?

Until next time,

No comments:

Post a Comment