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Lean Out


Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a client retreat. After my part of the agenda was complete, I was invited to stay on and enjoy the other speakers. I’ll be honest… I was tempted to hop on the first plane back to the office. But something encouraged me to stay… and thank goodness.

The second day of this client’s event was led by a skillful facilitator from The Energy Project (Tony Schwartz’s firm dedicated to renewal). Their premise is that humans are built to: a) spend and b) renew energy…. and the problem is that we tend to be much better at a than b.

During the day, the discussion of how we fail to address our needs – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – caused me to reflect on all of the conversation and media attention right now around ‘leaning in’. Perhaps instead we should be focused on ‘leaning out’.

Might we be more successful – and healthier – if rather than leaning in by ‘powering through’, getting up early and staying up late, we leaned out and got physical exercise and slept properly?

Might we be more successful – and happier – if rather than leaning in by forcing another deliverable or meeting, we leaned out and worked harder to cultivate positive emotions and focus?

Might we be more successful – and more satisfied – if rather than leaning in and chasing our tails, we leaned out and followed our clear and individual sense of purpose?

Could leaning out be the new leaning in? (I’d love to hear your thoughts. But, I won’t respond until next week. I’ll be leaning out and taking an energy-renewing vacation with my family.)


  1. Well said Julie. Leaning out does make us better people most times. Sometimes one needs to lean in, but that seems to be the new black !! As a Primary Care Physician I can see that too much of leaning in can lead to burn out and stress and dissatisfaction with work and life, and leaning out leads to a better work-life balance etc.

    • Thanks, Murali. I’m sure you see the effects of excessive leaning in everyday. After a week away, I really appreciate the balance: the ability to focus, work and achieve… and the ability to relax and rejuvenate. For me, the challenge is to find that balance…everyday. I’m wondering – given the intensity of your profession – how you do it?

  2. Julie,

    How fortunate that you decided to stay to listen to the Energy Project presenatation. Nearly a decade I read Tony’s book The Power of Full Engagement (written with Jim Loehr) and it really changed the way I thought about “time management”.

    You’ve inspired me to go back and read that book – and see what Tony is up to these days.

    Hope you enjoyed your Lean Back time 🙂

    • I LOVED that book when I read it the first time too…. and it’s wonderful to see how the concepts have expanded, evolved and scaled to reach so many more people. My leaning out time was pretty wonderful… now I’m feeling ready to lean in again!


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