I FINALLY READ "LEAN IN" AND THIS WAS MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAY
Updated: Nov 11, 2018
Since this book is referenced so frequently in the media, I really did not expect to learn anything new, but Miss Sheryl surprised me with this point.
It only took three years, $16.83, Prime two-day shipping and a recommendation from a friend for me to finally read Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In - Women, Work and The Will to Lead". And let me tell you, I pretty much bawled the entire time reading it because it hit home in a lot of ways (and as my sister would second, I am an ugly crier).
It was during my internship in my undergraduate studies while I was having a performance review. My first real performance review. While my boss was impressed with the work I had done, his feedback to me was "try to be less Legally Blonde". I was pretty pissed off. I was furious that the only piece of feedback was not about what I needed to do to improve my performance but about my personality. Looking back, I can see now that his intentions were not cruel. He was trying to set me up for success to be respected moving forward. But I wanted to be respected for the work I was doing and for being true to myself. Do men face this same dilemma?
One of the points that really resonated with me was when Sheryl talked about women needing to support women (especially in women-specific challenges). This discussion made me think back to a conversation that I was a part of...
THE POINT THAT I WILL TAKE AWAYLast year I worked with Hudson's Bay for a few months in between careers. Retail is often a field dominated by strong female leaders and this store was no exception. There was one particular leader who was pregnant. Very pregnant. Her doctor had placed her on bed rest because of potential risks in her last few weeks. If you have ever worked in retail then you know that you are on your feet at least 8-10 hours a day, so this request seemed pretty reasonable. A few days later, I was completing a store walk with two other female leaders. Comments such as "When I was pregnant I worked up until the very last minute" and "Wouldn't we all like to have 3 weeks off before the baby comes" were scattered throughout the conversation.
For the past few years, climbing the corporate ladder has been a pretty clear goal of mine. I have put in a lot of overtime and committed to a lot of additional school work to make this happen. I was lucky enough to have parents who always told me the sky was the limit. But, I am engaged now, and I want to start a family in the next little bit and I have a new job and I travel pretty often and... how is that going to work?
Well, Sheryl taught me a little thing about not leaving until you actually leave. What this means is, don't pull yourself back before you actually need to. Don't say no to opportunities now because they may not work for you in the future. So, when the opportunity comes up to lead a new project or take a promotion - do it if it works for you now and when it does not work anymore, that is when you should make the adjustment.
Sheryl also talks about finding your mentor, making sure you have a real partner and being a stay at home mom. I could write about each of these topics, and someday I might, but pick up the book. Or ask to borrow it from me. And if you are a man, you should definitely take the time to read it, understand it and support it going forward.
Leaning in is different for everyone. And while not everyone needs to lean in to the same degree, I can see how as women we need to lean in cumulatively more than we have in the past to see greater balance in the future. We can do it!
Ps. Amazon just announced that women are paid 99.9 cents for every dollar that men earned in the same job. One step closer!