The Most Frightening Question for Women

Today, I was lucky. I was able to attend the Gonzaga University Women Lead Fall Luncheon. The event featured, former Google & Facebook team member and author, Marissa Orr. She wrote the book, Lean Out. You may be familiar with the book Lean In written by Sheryl Sandberg. Marissa wrote a book not just to challenge the ideas proposed by Sheryl, but to introduce yet another way for women to consider how they show up, especially at work.

Part of Marissa’s personal story involves being a single mom of three kids while trying to figure out what she truly wanted. She cited an opportunity for a promotion and ultimately realized that she wanted to be recognized and compensated for the work she was already doing. It didn’t mean that she wanted a promotion to manage people. She also calls out “management” who base performance reviews on their own definition of ambition. Just because someone doesn’t want to manage people, doesn’t mean they aren’t ambitious.


Admittedly, I had read her book before the luncheon and had participated in a book discussion. We were able to bring two of our female team leaders to the luncheon. On our way to the event, I asked them if they had read either of the books. Neither of them had, so I introduced them to the premise of each of the books. It wasn’t until I was sitting in the room listening to Marissa’s experiences and wondering “how is this sitting with them?” Had they had similar experiences in our company?


After Marissa was done speaking, our tables had the opportunity to talk through our initial thoughts and perspectives. I was struck by the common theme around the table. As I was talking with our female team leaders about their take-aways or aha’s the theme was the same. Want to know what it was? It was the idea of deciding what it is that we want in various parts of our life. This is all too familiar to me. “As a woman,” one of the attendees said, “we constantly are doing everything that everyone else wants.” This alludes to not having the time to decide what WE want. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I believe that it’s an excuse to not make a decision, not make a mistake, and not make progress towards something worth going after.


As a coach, oftentimes I see this among my clients. Some people have so much debt that it’s hard to see the other side of the tunnel of debt. I also have clients who have worked very hard and have taken steps to correct their financial situation. Both scenarios leave clients in a place of wonder and discomfort. How many times were we told as kids to stop day-dreaming? Well, now, it’s time. There’s no magic formula for “how to dream or decide.” It takes some time, focus, and thought about what it is that WE want.


A few other things that make declaring what we want difficult…(speaking from personal experience) are:

  • We want to make the best decision which lends itself to perfectionism and inability to be vulnerable and make mistakes.

  • We want to weigh all the options which leads to paralysis by analysis.

  • Sheer overwhelm of the all that is possible leads to inaction and lack of decision.

I challenged the attendees and our female leaders to declare and email me ONE thing that they want in their life, today. I’d like to extend this challenge to you. If you could wave a magic wand right now and decide what you want in your professional or personal life, what would it be? Don’t worry, you can change it tomorrow if you want. Remember there is no right or wrong answer and this is an exercise for you to get more comfortable with deciding what you want so that you can be the best version of yourself!


If you want some help deciding or dreaming, connect with me!


Today, I want to become more comfortable deciding

& declaring what I want my life to look like!

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