Of the many fears that Arianna Huffington considers in On Becoming Fearless… in love work and life, the one to which I most relate is “Do I dare speak up?”. The times that I’ve not shared my opinion for fear of being wrong or disliked, are too many to count. I probably could have gotten a lot further in my career if I talked more, but at the time, I assume I’ll be wrong about something and be seen as a naive little girl. I am honestly inspired by Huffington’s words of encouragement. She even calls out that the “naive little girl” role is one that many women cling to at work, offering service and support to others, rather than management. “Can I help you with anything else?” I’m sure I’ve said more times than, “What I’d like you to do is…”
I’m even more moved by her acknowledgment that women especially battle anxiety in many arenas of life; therefore, she has a specific concern as the mother of two girls that her daughters work toward becoming fearless. She does not want them to be stifled or thwarted by fears of not being pretty enough, smart enough, or strong enough. Men, she points out, are usually stimulated and excited by a challenge, while women are more likely to fear failure, or even success. At the start of the book, she gives a wonderful example of how she turned her school-aged daughter’s attitude around by suggesting that the butterflies she felt before a school performance was excitement, not fear.
Because Huffington works and socializes in an elite circle, the anecdotes she shares come from extraordinary and accomplished people, many of whose names we are already familiar with. Little of the book’s contents come from large scale studies or measurable trends. The bulk of it is stories about famous people, including Arianna Huffington herself. The only time this really bothered me is when she points to Jude Law as an example of a man who left his more accomplished fiance for his less accomplished nanny. (Men are not interested in successful women.) Don’t get me started on this. My husband already had to listen to my sociological explanation of why this event is totally irrelevant to anyone and everyone in the world except for Jude, the fiance, the nanny and the children. (Even if Huffington’s right, and men are actually not interested in successful women.)
P.S. Photo of Jude Law provided to keep you reading.
The topics addressed in On Becoming Fearless range from money to love to work to faith. Ultimately, her goal, however is to inspire social change by wrapping the book up with a chapter titled “Fearless about changing the world”. She urges us to volunteer with our families and to combat any fears we may have that problems are too big, we don’t have enough to give, or as in the case of her California gubernatorial run, you may not win.
The last page of On Becoming Fearless provides Arianna Huffington’s Top 10 Tips to Becoming Fearless, including “Use the mirror to make sure your lipstick isn’t smudged, not to judge your value as a person.” This book is easy to read and would be wonderful to share with a friend or relative. (Hint, hint, Mother’s Day gift…)