My friend and colleague Sharon Tierman, aka Madame Marketing, has a favourite expression, "The higher you go on the ladder, the more your butt hangs out."

Though it's not the best visual picture, it's a pretty apt way of looking at what happens when you put yourself out on the line - when you stand up for your vision and values, when you take on a new ambitious project, or when you take a risk in front of your peers.

You can feel a little exposed.

Like how I felt this week presenting in front of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation staff on their DISC behaviour preferences. First time in front of them, first time on the topic. I was really nervous.

But when you think about it, what was I really exposing myself to? The biggest fear we all have - OPO. Other People's Opinions. And this might come in the form of 'feedback', criticism, judgments, or even downright direct attacks.

This is when you can turn OPO into GO - Growth Opportunity.

Growth Opportunity is not just another euphemism for 'crap I have to deal with from nasty people'. Oh no - GO is what successful and scintillating leaders dine on for breakfast, lunch and tea.

And it is precisely at these points in time when you as a leader can ground yourself and grow taller. Here's how:

1. Any time you put yourself out on the line know you are growing. Like in fitness training, you don't get stronger by hiding under the couch. You get stronger by flexing and stressing muscles. And it doesn't always feel pleasant at the time. There's a lot of grunting and sweating and wondering if you can actually make it through the new demands. Feel the discomfort as a sign of improvement.

So when I stumbled a little with my notes and fielded some tough questions straight up, I knew the inner quaking was just a sign I was stretching my resilience.

2. Know that Other People's Opinions are none of your business. You can't be inside somebody else's head, you can't live their life for them, and you can't be responsible for what comes out of their mouth either. Treat these morsels as 'thought scraps' - chuck them on the compost heap, and let them break down into something you can pick through and use later.

I received some great feedback on my session - constructive and positive. I know the comments are just as much about my performance as they are signposts to the other person's current circumstances. We all filter events through our own life's goggles.

3. Retreat to the Sanctuary. Being out on the line takes an extraordinary amount of energy. You need to replenish those adrenals, and get some distance from the point of interaction. Take some time out, do something fun, hang out with loved ones, do something completely different. Not only will you feel refreshed, your perspective will broaden.

Life is not lived just on the edge - like the tide it surges forward, and retreats. Enjoy the rhythm.

Author's Bio: 

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Author Zoe Routh works with women in business to enhance their personal effectiveness and leadership capacity for global effect. For free tips on how to become a more effective leader that will save you time, money, energy, and stress, go to