Run Towards Fear by Jess Larson

Last week, I attended my first Leader to Leader Interview with the Girls in the Game Teen Squad where teens interview a panel of professionals to learn more about their careers.

I absolutely love Leader to Leader Interviews because they are entirely directed by the Teen Squad members. Teens read over the panelists’ bios and prepare their questions and activities ahead of time. It is truly rewarding to watch our teens use these interviews as a springboard for thinking about their own careers or college majors.

IMG_2028The interview with the panel of nine men and women at Gallup was chock-full of sound career advice, encouragement, and inspiration for our teens. But my favorite part of the day by far was the self-awareness activity that a Gallup panelist prepared for the end of our day, an activity that Gallup uses to train their own management.

The panelist spread out a deck of various photos on the table in front of the teens.  It contained a large variety of images of everyday things: people holding hands, a line of dominoes, a row of black shoes with one red pair, someone framing the setting sun in their hands. The panelist then read a series of statements:

IMG_2041“Pick a photo that represents you right now.”

“Pick a photo that represents teamwork.”

“Pick a photo that represents your future.”

After selecting a photo, the teens took turns explaining why they chose that particular photo. The common theme throughout were their fears about their imminent futures after graduating high school.

“My grandma always told me it takes a village to raise a child, but you can’t take the village with you,” Alisha said in regard to her next steps towards college.

Gabriella, a senior, spoke about how frightening it was to see the deadline of high school graduation looming while she still felt unsure about what she wanted to do with her life.

Upon hearing the word “fear,” my gut instinct was to protest. Fear is not what Girls in the Game is about! We’re trying to teach girls to be bold and outspoken, so why all this talk about fear from some of our oldest participants?

And then I remembered this quote and photo we posted recently from gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the first female gymnast to earn a perfect 10 at the Olympics in 1976.

motivational-messages

Run toward fear.

That’s exactly what our teens were doing. How much courage did it take to honestly discuss their fears about the future in a boardroom of peers and panelists? To admit that they don’t know what the future holds and ask for advice? Much more courage than I had at their age! After all, courage doesn’t come from being fearless, but from the ability to move forward despite it. And moving forward they are! Exploring careers, selecting colleges, and weighing different majors in the midst of a host of uncertainties.

That is the true power of Girls in the Game; it teaches girls to run toward fear at full speed, just as a gymnast sprints at the vault without hesitation or the wide receiver charges towards the end zone. Our girls learn to fail and try again. And we’re so proud when they do.

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