One of the hot topics in today’s leadership circles is the “Lean-In” movement, based on Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In: Women, Work and The Will To Lead.” The COO of Facebook challenges women to explore ways we hold ourselves back from the goals we desire.

My challenge to all leaders is to go even further.

We ALL hold ourselves back from our goals. Although we often achieve “results,” we are rarely satisfied. We have checked off the boxes, yet something is usually missing. If our results were obtained at the expense of a relationship, well-being and health, our course is unsustainable.

What if there were more to moving forward than leaning in? The secret for those who wish to truly lead with impact is not to lean in; instead pursue exactly the opposite! Mickey Singer, author of the #1 NY Times Bestselling Book “The Untethered Soul,” is a successful entrepreneur turned author and teacher. He encourages us to “lean back.” In so doing we will inspire the highest level of engagement in ourselves and in others, while enjoying the essence of living and leading our lives.

How do you know if this applies to you? Consider the following:

• How many times have you found yourself wound tight, reacting intensely to what is playing on the movie screen of your experience?
• When you become frustrated with others because they are not doing what you desire, what is your pattern of engagement? Do you push, pull, or observe?
• Do you “lean-in” or do you “lean back?” Are you jumping in, while reacting, or do you relax, observe, and choose a course that serves what the moment asks for?

What if you were to lean-back and simply extract yourself from reacting?

How would your leadership be different if you could know exactly what to do with the situation at hand?

How would you lead and live if your choice was made on what “is” instead of based upon reactive programs from your past experiences?

It sounds simple, yet isn’t easy to implement. Why? Because the grip of the reactive mind has its claws deeply embedded in each of us. We grasp, clutch, and try to control what is outside of us; others, the situations we/they are in. We hope (and secretly expect) that if we can simply control everything outside, we are protected and will be safe and happy. We aim to get more of what we desire and to keep at bay all that we dislike and fear.
How often do we try and fail at that strategy? It doesn’t work, yet we don’t replace it with one that does.

How can you “lean back”?

We already have the answer. Leaning back allows us to “hit the pause button” on the reactive state. It keeps us from reacting in “fight or flight” mode. In that state of alertness, we are not leaders. We are “reactors,” and are unable to connect or co-create.

The first step is to open your mind. You already have a Natural Leader within.

Accessing it requires two things:

1. Your willingness to exercise a new way of thinking and
2. A practice to get you there.

Lean back, practice a few long, slow, deep belly breaths, and simply observe. Pay attention to what the moment asks of you.

As you do, you may find that “leaning back” offers the most direct means of moving forward.

Author's Bio: 

Susan S. Freeman, MBA, ACC, NCC
Executive Success Strategist
Author and Speaker
Founder, Step Up Leader

Susan Freeman is author of the new book, “Step Up Now: 21 Powerful Principles for People Who Influence Others,” and the Founder of Step Up Leader. She is an experienced and respected Executive Success Strategist whose passion is helping entrepreneurial leaders go from “stuck” to “unstuck.” She has created a unique system that helps people access their emotional intelligence so they can lead powerfully and authentically. Susan has helped clients in diverse industries and roles obtain passion, clarity, and exceptional results.
She received her B.A. in Psychology from Wellesley College and her M.B.A. in Marketing from Columbia University in New York. She brings to her clients more than 25 years of strategic marketing, non-profit, and retained executive search experience in London and New York. She received her coach training and certification from The Newfield Network. Susan is an accredited coach with the International Coach Federation, as well as an MSP-certified business facilitator.
Susan is a native of Kansas City and resides in Tampa, FL. She is an active member of The Athena Society and a Leadership Tampa Alumna. Committed to education, Susan has served on several educational boards at the secondary and university level. Her global passion is developing young women entrepreneurial leaders in Rwanda, where she is currently involved with The Akilah Institute, a school that empowers young women with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to become leaders.

Susan is happily married and has three grown sons. Rarely a day goes by when she doesn’t eat a piece of dark chocolate