Fearless and free. It’s a pretty good place to be when it comes to your career. Which is exactly what Emmy-award winning TV news producer and author Wendy Sachs writes about in her book, Fearless and Free, How Smart Women Pivot— and Relaunch Their Careers.
In the book she discusses the self-imposed barriers that hold women back. The job market’s radical change in recent years. And how we can all take small steps that lead to massive growth.
Here are our 5 favorite takeaways that you can apply to your career today. Free? Fearless? Right this way.
1. “The only career goal you should be focusing on right now, is staying relevant.”
In the book Wendy quotes Karen Shnek Lippman, a managing director at the Sloan-Koller Group. Lippman says, “There is no such thing as a career path now.” It’s scary to think about, but in the last decade we have seen industry change exponentially. Keeping yourself relevant, continuing to advance and develop your skills (ahem, learn new ones), and evolve with the times is a way to make sure you keep your job.
2. Your sorry’s add up.
Wendy references the Amy Schumer May 2015 sketch on Inside Amy Schumer, that documents the female tendency to apologize. It’s satire sure, but that means it’s biting. And it packs some truth. Think of how many times you say “sorry” when someone runs into you. Sorry! It’s innocuous enough in that moment, but the propensity to apologize adds up and seeps into our other behavior.
We suggest testing out actively not saying sorry in instances that aren’t your fault. Someone runs into you? Look them in the eye and wait for their apology. See if it shifts your attitude and self-worth even a smidgen. Because smidgen's add up too.
3. Confidence is more important than competence.
Wendy cites research from journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman and their book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance, in which they found that we’re either hardwired for confidence or we’re not. “Like blue eyes,” Wendy writes, “this inheritable trait is something we are born with— imprinted in our genetic code. Kay and Shipman found that the correlation between genes and confidence may be as high as 50 percent and may be even more closely connected than the link between genes and IQ.”
Did that make your heart stop? We’ve always been told that we can power pose our way to confidence! (Something Wendy also discusses in the book.) And these women are telling us, maybe not? “The key here,” says Wendy, “is that those with overconfidence weren’t faking it—it simply wasn’t bravado or bluster—they actually believed they were that good.”
So what’s a woman not born with the confidence gene do with this research? We say, allow yourself off the hook for not getting the [insert anything you’ve ever beat yourself up about here] and then rewire your brain to become more confident.
Wendy says, “While confidence may be partly genetic, the good news is that it is also very malleable. It’s like a muscle that can be strengthened.”
She also says that “confidence creation is about taking risks.” So go ahead and make some risky moves.
4. Get Up and Go After It
If you’re making risky moves, you’re going to fail. You’re going to fall. Sometimes that means starting all over again.
Wendy recounts the story of Jill Abramson, The New York Times’s first and only female executive editor, who was fired two and a half years into her job. “Some reported,” writes Wendy, “that Jill was ‘difficult,’ which for a female executive is a word loaded with gender double standards. It was also reported that Jill had hired a lawyer before she was fired to look into compensation issues, believing that she was not paid the equivalent to her male predecessor.”
But Jill didn’t stay down. According to Wendy, “The morning after Jill was fired, she went to a session with her trainer that handed her pair of boxing gloves. She had never boxed before, but hitting the bag was intensely satisfying, Jill asked her trainer to take a picture of her with the gloves and she emailed it to her kids who were worried about her.” The pic went viral after her daughter Cornelia posted it to her Instagram.
It’s a great reminder that no one fall is your end. Only you can decide your professional end.
Which is why we love #5…
5. Flip off failure.
Seriously. Process your failure and then give it the bird. (And the wings so that it may fly away.) You can’t become paralyzed because something doesn't work or survive in the marketplace.
We’re reminded of this modern day biz facet the whole book through. And it’s a vital Wendy says, “Inertia is a confidence killer, and with the world today moving at the speed of social, there’s no time to get stuck.”
For more career advice and how to fail forward, check out Wendy’s book, available on Amazon here.