On the heels of the Yahoo! work from the home ban by Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In was met with a hefty amount of backlash. In just under a month, gender roles and flexibility in the workplace came to the forefront. Debates flared and blogger keyboards burned up!
My first reaction to the book title was similar to most. The reality of leaning in more could certainly mean I’d fall over and hard. Who wants to lean in when you are already maxed out, right? Not the intended meaning of the title though. I started reading with both excitement and an open mind.
Sandberg’s book connected with me in many ways. She poked fun at herself, wrote about teachable moments and described people who became her mentors over time. It was also packed with statistics about the feminist movement as well as the work/life balance issues of today.
While it’s been slammed as a feminist manifesto, Sandberg herself notes that it is mildly just that. It was written to inspire others to achieve the goals they want to pursue and not let anything hold them back from what they dream to achieve in life.
Sandberg climbed the corporate “jungle gym” in her career and shared stories about personal growth over the years plus defining moments when her gender played a role.
Wonder why a “jungle gym” as opposed to the corporate ladder? Well simple, the corporate ladder is just straight up or down, unlike many careers which move all over time. And then there’s that “corporate ladder” visual of the butt of the person in front of you at your face. Yes, gross, but it was actually a joke Sandberg included in her book.
She also wrote about her relationship with her husband and how they support one another at home and the office. She does strike a valuable point about having the support of those in your personal life, whether it’s a spouse, partner, or family member. To achieve your dreams, aspirations, and goals, you need support behind the scenes. It truly takes a village.
What’s not in Lean In?
Entrepreneurship. Sandberg’s career has been heavily focused on government positions and corporate roles. Entrepreneurship was not a theme in the book or really mentioned. Many men and women opt out of the corporate world to pursue their own dreams of business ownership. Although this topic is not in the book, her overall message is to build your confidence, speak up and pursuing your passion is what it’s really about.
Two very important points to take away no matter where you are at:
1) Sit at the table
Don’t leave before you leave.
Sandberg describes those points with her corporate experiences. I would also add to them.
“Sit at the table.”
No matter if it’s corporate or if it’s the table you created (a la your own business) find your seat at the table not off to the side.
Challenge. Motivate. Dare yourself to sit at that table, literally.
If you saw “Dirty Dancing” (the original and yes, I am dating myself), think of Patrick Swayze’s line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Get out of the corner and off the sidelines to sit at that table. Each time you do, it will build confidence.
2) Don’t leave before you leave.
In the book, Sandberg referred to women opting out of family long before they actually have the children by passing on promotions, stretch assignments, etc.
It can also mean don’t cut the losses before you get started and quit. No matter the goal, dream, or endeavor, we all have moments when we want to throw in the towel and walk away. Like Dori in Finding Nemo, keep swimming because it will lead you to something new.
Whether or not you connect with Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In, the common theme among those who achieve their goals is strikingly clear.
- They dare to dream big.
- When they lack confidence, they do it anyway.
- They believe in themselves and their passion enough to always keep going.
- And by virtue of their perseverance and attitude, they inevitably surround themselves with people who support and empower them.
So go ahead, lean in! Whatever you aspire to achieve, you won’t fall over. If you do, get up and try again.
Just like Dori… keep swimming.
Did you read Lean In?
Please share your book comments or your “dream big” goals below!
Check out LeanIn.org You don’t want to miss the bloggers who share their stories. It’s people you know, musicians you love, and more.
This book review includes the thoughts and opinions of the blog owner. No compensation was exchanged for this review.