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What Does ‘Fearless’ Mean to You

Lynn Blake | State Street Corporation

December 06,2017

The word ‘fearless’ carries a lot of weight. So what does it mean to you?

If you look up “fearless,” it has no fewer than 23 synonyms including unflinching, heroic and gutsy. I’d argue that Fearless Girl has done a pretty great job of representing all those meanings. And in addition to standing for greater gender diversity in the board room, women and girls everywhere can see their own fearless selves in her.

I decided to ask other women at State Street about what the concept of “fearless” means to them. Here is what a few had to say.

Natalia Jimenez, Assistant Vice President, Kansas City

It means being present; to be here, now.  If you are afraid, more than likely you are worried of some fictional future your mind has made up and is causing anxiety. Once you realize that all you ever actually have is NOW and you exist in the present, fear naturally falls away. With that said, if you feel stress, unease, anxiety, worry, ask yourself, “why?” five times and you may actually get to the root of that which causes you to be fearful. Then you can ask yourself, “Does this serve me now in this moment?” If the answer is “no”, let it go. It takes practice and a certain level of introspection to be the observer of our thoughts but it is definitely worth the effort. The only time fear is useful is when you are in mortal danger. That’s it. Be at Peace.

Margaret-Mary Stevenson, Managing Director, Hong Kong

It means saying ”Yes.”

We had been in our forever house for six months and our teenagers were settled in local secondary school, when one evening my husband turned to me whilst we stacked the dishwasher and asked, “Would you like to move to Hong Kong?”  I said “Yes.”  He had been offered a promotion that day.  There was much to consider and discuss in the period between then and our move but in that moment there was only one answer.

We have now been in Hong Kong for almost four years where I was lucky to find a new role within State Street with new opportunities and responsibilities.  I do not regret saying “Yes” and wish we had been bold for change much earlier.

Sarah J. Rask, Managing Director, Hyderabad

Being fearless can be summed up in one simple, four letter word…jump. A person who is willing to jump is open to seeking new opportunities in their life and has a willingness to step off the edge. Don’t get me wrong, if you embrace the “jump” mindset it can be painful, but you ultimately end up stronger because of it. Without “jumping” you risk missing out on new experiences and the opportunity to learn about who you truly are. If you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, either personally or professionally, you grow as an individual/partner/parent/employee. When one contemplates jumping, fear and uncertainty creep into our decision making. This sort of naysaying speak only dissuades a person from truly realizing your full potential. An insightful person recently told me, “The only person you have to live with your entire life is yourself.”  If you embrace fearlessness and jump, you can only make that life more gratifying for yourself and those around you.

Jane Man, Managing Director, Hong Kong

When I first saw the image of the Fearless Girl, it reminded me of my first ocean kayak experience. The coach showed me a few basic survival techniques then off we went.  I was startled by the first few waves. They were strong and I wasn’t sure if I could complete the course. I paused and re-evaluated the situation. Then I realized, I was strong enough to push through those first few waves, I still had a lot of strength in me and my return to the shore would be helped by the waves. I decided to press on and ended up having the most wonderful kayak-surfing experience. To be fearless doesn’t mean that you have no regard for the circumstances that you’re in. But rather, it is about taking calculated risks, have faith and the tenacity to negotiate whatever difficult terrain awaits you.

Brooke L. Douglas, Vice President, Hong Kong

To me, being "fearless" means admitting that fear exists daily in my world - expressing my fears and seeking help and support whenever needed. Navigating full-time work as a mother of two young boys in the last three to four years I have been:

  • fearless in being fully transparent and upfront about the support I need whether asking for a work day that suits my family and priorities (not missing bed and bath time)
  • fearless in seeking help or an outlet when it all feels too much;
  • fearless in creating new opportunities in my personal life to grow and learn new skills;
  • fearless in putting my hand up and saying I have no idea what I’m doing but "I’ll have a go’"
  • fearless in sometimes just saying "no"

I’ve been fearless in being authentic – some may not like it but to be honest, I kind of don’t care!

For me, fearless means a willingness to face challenges and not be deterred by obstacles. But it doesn’t mean in a reckless or unbridled way, but instead to face challenges in a very measured and determined way - with your eyes wide-open and prepared to overcome any obstacles as they arise.

No matter how you define it, there is a bit of a Fearless Girl in all of us.  

Topics: Diversity

Lynn Blake | State Street Corporation

Lynn Blake is an executive vice president of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) and CIO of Global Equity Beta Solutions. She oversees a team of 70 portfolio managers globally, and more than 1,600 portfolios with assets in excess of $1.4 trillion across all equity index and smart beta strategies. Lynn also serves as a member of SSGA's Executive Management Group.