Dana Perino Shares Her Lean In Story

Lean In

By now, people all over the United States and across the world have heard about the wildly popular book, Lean In.  The book, written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, was published in March of this year and, by April, had already sold more than 275,000 copies.  The book, according to its author, is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do.

In the book, Sheryl provides many of her own experiences.  And the creation of LeanIn.Org was the next step.  Among it’s other offerings, LeanIn.Org is a unique platform for women and men to share their stories the way Sheryl did in her book.  ”Good stories,” LeanIn.Org says, “can inspire, teach and connect us.”

As of now, some 211,684 women and men have shared their stories on the LeanIn.org site.  Today, Minute Mentoring® co-founder Dana Perino became one of them.

Check out her story of a time in her life when she “leaned in.” Originally published at leanin.org.

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Put Your Big Girl Panties on and Deal with It!

by Dana Perino

For many years, I was quite happy working behind the scenes during my time in the Bush administration. I enjoyed being the deputy press secretary to Tony Snow, helping him prepare and managing the office. He was one of the best press secretaries ever to stand at the White House podium, and he became a good friend as well.

When his health took a turn for the worse, he fought back against cancer and even managed to return to work. When he did, he seemed refreshed. But the 24/7 nature of the press secretary position, plus his love for his family, and desire to spend as much time with them as possible, led him to decide to step down. And that’s when I had to step up.

As his last day at the White House loomed, and the new reality set in, my fear of not measuring up to his performance nibbled at the edges of my mind. One day, he came into my office and asked, “How are you doing?”  I said, “Well, not very well. How could I ever replace you?” Then, he asked me to stand and come over to him. Now, he was six foot five inches and I’m an even five feet. He put his hands on my shoulders, made me look him up into his eyes and said, “You’re better at this than you think you are.”

It took a couple of weeks of doing the daily briefings for me to realize he was right. I also realized what he meant: I was over-thinking it. I was letting my fear of being out front, and not behind the scenes, suppress my confidence. The day, in fact the very minute, I realized that I didn’t have to replace him, I just had to be me, I was off to the races.

There was one other piece of advice I got during that time that I think of often. I got a call from Secretary Margaret Spellings on my first day as press secretary. She said, “How ya doin’?”  I said, “Well, to be honest, I’m pretty nervous.” She had the best advice in response, “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!”

I’ve realized that sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. We can talk negatively to ourselves all day long about everything – that we’re not thin, pretty, prepared, or capable enough. We disappoint ourselves and think we aren’t good enough as wives, sisters, daughters, bosses, employees and mothers. However, all of us are better at every one of those things than we think we are. Tell yourself that! When I learned “I was better at this than you think you are” it changed my life from that moment on.