I was introduced to Arianna Huffington through the book Thrive and what a book. I have recommended it to a lot of people. So I was very happy to finally get to read On Becoming Fearless
Very early on Arianna provides her own stance on fearlessness. She states that “Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. Rather, it’s the mastery of fear”. She continues saying “Fear is universal. It touches everyone – but it clearly doesn’t stop everyone”. Fear is a fact of life and it is something we all experience. However, some will let fear stop them, whilst others learn to continue despite of fear trying to stop them. That is being fearlessness.
Although women and men both fear, it seems that women struggle more. Women are notorious for self-sabotage and the idea that “Not even our worst enemies talk about us the way we talk about ourselves” made me giggle. I totally agree, but when you see it in black and white it is a little shocking.
Fears appear in all areas of life and through the book Arianna explores:
- Fearless about the body
- Fearless in love
- Fearless in parenting
- Fearless in work
- Fearless about money
- Fearless about aging and illness
- Fearless about god and death
- Fearless about leadership and speaking out
- Fearless about changing the world
The few chapters I was instantly drawn to were fearless in work, fearless about leadership and speaking out, and fearless about changing the world.
When talking about work, Arianna states that “Deeply ingrained cultural ideas of femininity make it much harder for women to own up fearlessly to their ambitions and pursue them without apology”. This is exactly why I created PropelHer (LINK). It is so sad that ambitious women feel they can’t wholeheartedly own that part of their character because it will make them appear less feminine. It seems that no matter how many women write about that fact, it is just a fact and unfortunately deeply ingrained cultural ideas take a while to change, even if they are unfair.
When it comes to fear in the workplace, many would assume that people are scared of failure. Arianna suggest that women also have a fear of success. This is the because they are too successful they will lose “connection to family and friends, to what’s “real”, and that men will be intimidated by us”.
Ambition makes you unfeminine. Success intimidates men and then to top it off there is the relationship of men, women and money. In Arianna’s eyes the formula is simple, if illogical – “Men love women. Men love money. But men don’t love women with money”. It is a pretty sad state of affairs for the ambitious, successful and rich women (if she is looking for a male partner). Luckily, Arianna does have one solution for one of the problem areas. She suggests that “Women who have become financially successful might want to take another lesson from the male-dominated corporate world and hide their assets from potential mates”. Now I am not suggesting you do that. I am purely sharing Arianna’s advice.
Arianna’s views on women in leadership is interesting. She states that “Our culture still isn’t comfortable with powerful, visible, outspoken women”. The world may not be ready, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a powerful, outspoken and visible woman.
Overall, I enjoyed On Becoming Fearless. Arianna has a wonderful writing style. The book is filled with stories from her own experiences and others. She is honestly about the difficulties women face in multiple areas of life. However, the point is you can overcome those difficulties. We don’t have to let fear run the show.
Arianna states that “No one pays as much attention to our humiliations and defeats as we do”. I really agree with this. So when it comes to putting yourself out there whether in work, love, leadership or life what have you got to lose? Really what is the worst that can happen?