“Lean In” : A Life Skill Worth Learning


I make a living as a business guy. What does that mean? Basically I work day in and day out to get deals done.

I didn’t think I’d ever define myself that way, but after twenty plus years I’ve gotten used to it. In fact, I’ve carved out a pretty good role for myself handling the commercial side of things for the companies I’ve worked for.  I also am a problem solver.  That skill-set is part and parcel of any commercial person worth their salt, in my humble opinion.

One of the constants in business (as in life), is that there are inevitably, problems that arise, difficulties, and specific to sales, plenty of rejection.  Problem solvers are essential to any successful business.  Problem-solving skills transfer to the rest of your life, too.

I offer these tidbits to help you survive, and in fact THRIVE in your work, make things better for yourself and your colleagues, and even do some GOOD.  If you have kids (or even just have some kids in your life otherwise), teach your kids to the same.

Fundamentally, it’s a good idea to “lean-in” rather than procrastinate when faced with challenges, obstacles, disappointments. Avoiding only puts off the inevitable and can even cause additional stress and anxiety as you wring your hands over facing the difficulty.

The important realization is this: you can learn much from those things that don’t turn out the way we’d like, the way we hoped, the way we expected. Rather than avoid, ignore, or deny reality, face it with open eyes and an open mind.

Similarly, don’t shy away from things that are new, uncomfortable, have you uncertain, that seem scary. These sorts of situations are the very situations that will help you battle complacency, step beyond your safety zone, and have you continuing to learn and live deeply. Indeed, you’re most alive when you are coping, a bit anxious, stretching to go further.

The trick is in the attitude with which you confront, face the adversity. Personal growth, knowledge, insight comes from being in these very spaces — in the thick, suffering, lose, struggle, hardship — that’s where you show what you’re made of, that’s where you shine.

At it’s core, the proper attitude to have includes an acceptance that struggle is universal, suffering is universal. It’s simply part of the human condition. And as more than one wise person has said, by accepting, you transcend and are not longer chained down by the difficulty.

Profound experiences result from that effort, that attitude of acceptance, openness, and commitment to adjust and deal and grow.

Here are some specific takeaways:

1) Use the usual life benchmarks as guides, not measurements for success in life, work or personal. In this way you’ll be satisfied with where you are in the moment so you can get things done and make things better.

2) Strive for a resilient attitude in the face of adversity — this approach will help create positive perspective, impressions, outcomes.

3) Be ready to respond to new opportunities and difficulties alike. And have the courage to do so.

4) Evaluate your situation and make a plan. Write down the details: What’s the issue? Who are the players involved? What are the possible solutions? What are the action items needed to proceed?

5) Keep learning.

Bonus: Be Upbeat and Positive (it’s a choice!) – and that attitude spreads to those around you.

So next time you’re faced with adversity, pause for a moment, take a few deep breaths, allow any negative emotion to pass through you, and lean in — you, and everyone around you, will be better off.

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