Leaning in and Fitting in

Leaning in and Fitting in

Lisa O'Neill

Lisa O'Neill

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How and where you fit in anywhere in life is about showing up. It’s about leaning in.


’Fitting in’ is a huge part of being human. Often we create stories around fitting in. I’ve had many conversations with students at our live Immersions that all started with “I’ve always been an outsider”, “I’ve never been in the cool group”, “I don’t see that I can add any value” and the old chestnut “I have never felt good enough”. Every one of us had to deal with some and all of these feelings.

Your job as an adult is to rise above your previous social pathology and become who you are. At Thought Leaders, it starts at White Belt by deciding – who do you want to be?

How and where you fit in anywhere in life is about showing up. It’s about leaning in.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her book “Lean In” – ”we hold ourselves back by lacking self confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”

Leaning in, right now, is vitally important given the current state of the world. Connection is down, face-to-face meetings are difficult, and communication is tricky. There has never been a better time to show up. For some, it’s easier to show up now than before. Virtual events and platforms mean that we hear from people we normally wouldn’t in a live room. Often, the people who are prepared to speak up in live rooms are not the ones you want to hear from! The introverts are taking their place and chat boxes everywhere are benefitting.

I have had the pleasure of seeing author Neale Donald Walsch speak several times. When he was ready to start – he walked out onto the stage and commented that three of the seats in the front row were empty. He then stated that he would not be starting until people had come and sat in them! This led to a long and difficult silence while we all thought, gestured to one another and generally felt uncomfortable.

The event was sold out. Three seats were empty in the front row and there were a lot of people hovering at the back of the room. Neale said that the reason the front row seats were such an issue for him was that ’50% of life is showing up’ – if you do not show up you have zero chance of finding out whether or not something is going to be successful or not. There were 500 people who all had paid a lot of money to hear Neale speak and yet they were not prepared to maximise the opportunity by sitting at the front.

Being part of Thought Leaders Business School is a lot like this for me. You pay the money. You are a thought leader but are you committed to being part of the community? Are you adding value? Are you leaning in and taking a seat at the table? Are you getting everything you can out, by putting in as much as you can?

I love being part of the Thought Leaders community. A place where clever people hang out and share ideas that are commercially smart. A place where you can be recognised for your expertise and still be in awe of the others around you. Stimulating minds coming together to help stretch conventional thinking.

I have a large commitment gland. Once I commit, you are stuck with me. I am 100% committed to being part of this tribe. I am 100% committed to seeing that people get the best out of their Business School experience.

But your experience is your responsibility. You need to turn up, to be open, and to throw yourself into the arena – as Brené Brown would say….“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make” .

So for anyone suffering from fitting in failure here are some tips:

    1. Know that you deserve your place. You have signed up and turned up.
    2. Find your people. The people who you have something in common with, people who started at the same time as you, people who have similar thinking to you, people who share beliefs, experiences, doubts or expertise.
    3. Make an effort. Come to sessions, regularly show up on Central. You get out what you are prepared to put in.
    4. Be curious. Ask others for names of people who may be good for you to know. Target people who you want to learn more about.


Lisa O’Neill

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