Fear is Not an Option


Diane Von Furstenberg is a style icon. Known for her famous wrap dress that skyrocketed her to fame in 1972, she built a successful fashion business empire that made her a respected business woman and multimillionaire. She took risks to reinvent and relaunch her brand multiple times throughout her career by identifying opportunities and channeling her confidence to take the next steps. Aside from her business success, I am most inspired by five words that she shared in an interview that I read a few years ago and have stuck with me since.

“Fear is not an option” 

As the story goes, she learned these words from her Mother, but she used this mantra to guide her career steps and life. She has real fears in life, just like we do, but she developed her own way to overcome them by following her mother’s words and pushing through fearful times with focus and determination.

There are a lot of fears that can stop us in our career tracks, slow down our progress or even derail our success. The fear to change jobs, take on that next role, give a speech, ask for the flexibility, just to name a few. Tackling these challenges is difficult for all of us. Even the boldest and the brightest struggle. However, fear can be tackled with confidence and a plan.

Here are three steps that I think are helpful to tackle your work fears:

Step 1: The Decision:

Make the powerful decision that you will not allow fear to control your career progress. Make it your mantra like DVF has and commit to working through fears for the betterment of you. Take a few moments to envision your potential to thrive without fear in the way. Write down your commitment and put it in a place where you can easily remind yourself of your decision.

Step 2: The Plan:

Understanding what is driving your fear is critical to developing your plan of attack. Are you afraid of rocking the boat at work? Worried that you will not deliver in a new role? Ask and answer that question. Then, flip the question around and ask yourself how you can minimize that risk with a plan.

Engage the right person to help you map out your plan. While family and friends can be great support, sometimes it takes people outside of that circle who have faced the same challenge to help. Trust a mentor, member or your network or industry contact and ask for their input on how they have faced similar challenges.

Then, develop the steps you will take to address your career challenge. It could be as simple as writing and practicing your script to your boss to request the flexibility you need, or updating your resume and summarizing key accomplishments that remind you that you have what it takes to be successful in that next job.

Step 3: The Actions:

The final step is to put your plan in action. A good plan and the right support behind you creates confidence, which can shut fear down. Every challenge is an opportunity to get better and move your career forward. It takes practice and work, but the results are worth it.

We are bigger than the fears we face. Move fear out of the way and open up the doors of opportunity.
Thanks Diane, both for your wrap dress and your five little words.

Back to School- Back to “Better” Balance

It’s back to school time again. Like every summer, as soon as you blink it’s over and here we are getting our kids in gear once again. Back to homework, making lunches, bedtime schedules and everything that goes along with structure that school requires. I can’t help but think about what I will do differently this fall. The truth is, I feel like I could do everything a little better. More time with homework, better planning my calendar, healthier meals and staying more engaged with the kids on everything that happened that day.

Over time, I have learned that striving for perfect is a losing battle and does nothing for my self esteem. So I subscribe to “better” and doing my best at “better” everyday. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but if I am working towards this goal, progress is made.

I have a little more time to do a reset and figure out what I can do “better” to balance working and parenting. Here are my top three that I’ll be focusing on:

Setting expectations for structure: My kids do better with structure, and so do I. It’s no fun to be a drill sergeant, spouting out orders in the morning and evenings to keep things on track in the household. Sending the message to my kids about the structure we need before it’s time to get down to business sets the expectation and they get into gear quicker when it’s time.

No Iphone Zone: I, like many, find it difficult to disconnect from my iphone, emails and texts, but taking a break at certain times of the day is good for my kids and I. It helps me to stay more engaged, to dedicate important time to them and to free my mind of the constant flurry of activity from work and friends. This takes discipline and finesse, but its well worth it and sets a good example for the kids.

The family calendar: I use Outlook all day with ease and success to keep my work life organized, but somehow this doesn’t always trickle down to my family calendar. Planning kids homework and activities using a calendar is the key to staying on top of it all. Simple answer right? Sure, but it’s the discipline using it when I am on the go with work constantly.

Working Mother Magazine featured the top 20 best new apps with a family organizer one topping the chart. Here is the link- it is #6 on their list: http://www.workingmother.com/digital-life/20-best-iphone-apps. In an effort to up my techie game this fall, I am giving it a whirl.

Like many Moms, I look forward to back to school time after the summer. I also love learning from other Moms who have already figured it out. Share your top ideas for better balance and I will feature them on my blog at http://chicagoworkingwomen.wordpress.com


As posted on http://www.cathycassaniadams.com blog March 5, 2014

SUPERWOMAN. We’ve all seen her. She resides in many of our towns. Sometimes she is in magazines or even on TV. From afar, she looks perfect. She has this confidence about her, her outfits are put together and her hair and makeup always look good. At work, she is a rainmaker. She has a successful career and seems to have it all. Somehow she manages to keep it all together with the kids and make it look easy.

Many of us compare ourselves to SUPERWOMAN and wonder why we haven’t achieved “SUPERWOMAN” status yet. If we only worked harder, were more organized, had the confidence or the patience to be that ultimate Mom or career woman.
When you get to know her, you finally realize, she’s just like us, and she has challenges like we do, but she’s figured a few things out. She knows what she wants and she’s willing to work hard to have it. She surrounds herself with the best resources she can to be the woman she wants to be.

The SUPERWOMEN I know, have a few important things in common, even though they are each unique in their own way.

• They are confident, but humble enough to ask for help because they realize, they can’t do it all without the right support in place.

• They think creatively to find their strengths and build their success around them.

• They are resilient. They have experienced life’s ups and downs, problems and setbacks, but they find a way to pick up the pieces, get stronger as a result, and march on.

• They are resourceful. They tap into people who have tackled the same challenges or problems and come up with solutions. Then, they put those solutions into action.

• Most importantly, they don’t give up. They are passionate about being the best they can be for themselves and for their families.

The SUPERWOMEN we see out there really are SUPER WOMEN. Ones that we can learn from, network with, and maybe even help someday. So the next time you see her, invite her over for a cup of coffee or send her an email and ask her for her best tips. You never know what she will share.