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Entries in lean in (2)

Wednesday
Jan012014

day 1129: leggo my ego

New Year's Day 2014. Two. Thousand. And. Four. Teen. I'm having a bit of a Bridget Jones moment, seeking to chronicle the calories I consumed, the cigarettes I (wished I had) smoked, the moments of mirror-facing melancholy and reflection, the crash of new tidal waves and old ones, the shock and the ho-hum of new freaking omg-ing years.

So here we are.

And as I do this kind of reflection, I think of the inflection points all around us, these junctures, joints, meetings of this and that; and I wonder: is it any coincidence in this year of conjoints and disjoints that this is the year my literal joints have started to hurt? That I'm more acutely aware of my knees than I ever have been? That I sleep with a pillow beneath my knees - larger and more fluffier than the one beneath my head, in the vain hope that this night, opposed to all the nights before it, they may feel less punctuated, less pressured, less piqued than they did the night before?

(And I realize [much to my chagrin] - yes, it's just a coincidence. My knees are not a metaphorical sign of the inflections of my life. They are merely reminding me that they're there and they're older. Bummer. I was hoping for a deeper meaning than that.)

So back to Bridget Jones. Today I ate two baby pancakes with a dollop of syrup, one crispy slice of bacon and some coffee. Just as easily I could have had a waffle. An eggo, which brings us to our post.

I have friends, who like to drop gauntlets. Who like to make commitments, out loud, in front of others, to declare their unabashed fearlessness to get a goal done, even when they're shaking in their boots, even when they know not what they do. And that's super cool to be on the receiving end of, so long as there's no expectation of reciprocity, no hope for a saw to their see, no ante up.

Only my friends don't roll like that, and if they're going to throw down, well you should at least have the moxie to throw right back.

Recently, I went to a panel discussion on all things "leaning in" - featuring three women, at different points in their career and different levels of household management and family partnership - telling us what leaning in really means to them. And one of the women's comments stuck with me the most:

"It's a little bit about who you're being."

Now this is a woman who's fairly bad ass in her job, and I would imagine in her larger life. She was spewing wisdom like candy out of a pinata, and the crowd was lapping it up.

"It's a little bit about who you're being" has stayed with me like the whisper weight of a veil, like the patch I used to wear behind my ear before a flight so I wouldn't puke - seeping into my bloodstream slowly but substantively until the medicine made my body ok with the tumult of flight.

"What do you want to be?" my friend asked me. I didn't have a great answer back then; and I think part of the reason might be because I was asking the wrong the question. "Who do you want to be, Maria?" might have been more a propos.

I told my friend that I worry about me, that I have a hard time sometimes articulating what I want to be or where I want to be because it is wrapped up not in what I empirically want or desire, but (gulp) in where I feel the most valued. Indeed, where others might want me to be, rather than where I want to be myself. Hell, I need the edification of others' boosts for me to make me feel like I'm home. And at this inflection point, I am lost more in the noise of where my ego feels most fed, rather than where I might learn the most, might risk the most, might grow.

That is just so. not. hot. In fact, on the greater pendulum of things, that leaves me more "saw" than "see", more Bridget than Sheryl, more me.

But as my friend wisely told me, the truth is: we all want to be wanted. As creatures, as humans, as lovers, as leaders - we all want to be wanted. The trick is knowing enough about the deepest pit of yourself to ensure that not only do you not get lost, you emerge - like "Lynda-Carter-Wonder-Woman-out-of-water-emerge" in the process.

Yes, indeed it's a lot about who you're being. And on the teeter between this moment and that, this step and that leap, this faith and that fact, I need to leggo my ego, and step with intention into my choices, into the balance, into who I want to be.

Scratch that, into who I am. Wish me luck.

Maria Kim

Saturday
Oct262013

day 1062: go on and show up

So I've been thinking a lot lately about risks. And the fact that inherent in each risk is a bit of a leap. Leap of an entrepreneur, leap of a relationship, leap of faith, and leap of disclosure that brings you closer to (or further away from) your goal.

Those of you who know me well know that I am - plainly put - risk averse. Or at least when I do stuff that flies in the face of the risk inherent in it, I do it with my eyes wide shut, and with a relatively real fear that I'm going to pass out, throw up, fall over and die (sometimes not necessarily in that order).

Truth be told, I'm scared sugar-honey-iced-tea-less of lots of things. Of the most banal things like falling forward as I walk down a staircase, to confronting a revolving door as though it were my first rodeo in double dutch.

Even when I went skydiving, I was pukish from 14,000 feet in the sky to zero on the ground and for the three hours that followed after that. All this while my other friends descended in their parachutes in slow motion, and as they touched ground, they looked like Charlie's Angels whipping their long and short locks in the sun - just another bad ass activity in a regular day's work. I couldn't quite get the rhythm of it. I felt hasty, or too slow, and conscious - ever-conscious of hitting something. Hard.

I think this latent fear puts a pallor (maybe not so much a pallor, but an unexpected hue) on many things. It keeps me comfortable in certain seats, and in my professional life, has made me master at being a solid #2. A person behind a person doing some wildly cool things, but still one step shy of being the person at the helm.

Now I could easily share countless reasons as to why this is the case - everything from "I'm good at it." to "I believe in distributed leadership and isn't it better to have a band of merry fellows rather than a solo artist?" But the real answer is: I'm just plain scared. (Sorry Sheryl Sandberg, I said it.)

One day, as with others on my tripped out bucket list (skydiving? check.), I will do it. I will sit in the seat of the Lord Mayor and be good at it. But I will also want to throw up, make an ass out of myself on occasion, and be scared to death most days in the process. And maybe that's a cool thing. Maybe that's a more than cool thing. Because it is the leadership that ascends by accident even - in spite of our scary selves and because of our scared selves - that makes us ever stronger, ever real, and hopefully ever impactful.


One day I'll do it. I'll double dutch my way into it. And while I may be more Charlie than Angel when I land, it will feel good - scratch that, great - to have taken the risk.

Go on and show up with your bad self. Go on and do it.

Maria Kim