Move Over – I’m Sitting at the Table Too

Learning to grab my seat:
A review of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”

I’ve been meaning to read “Lean In” for months. Months. I saw Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk a few years ago and immediately felt inspired. If you’ve got 15 minutes, I highly suggest watching it.

“Lean In” expands upon a few of the topics she discusses in her TED Talk and presents additional problems and opportunities for consideration. While I spent my entire time with the book accumulating pages of notes and lessons to remember, three of her main points resonated strongly with me:

What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid?

To paraphrase a truly brilliant chapter, research shows that most women literally hang back when presented with an opportunity. They have a fear of failure or an anxiety of being unprepared and choose to not “sit at the table.” These actions are not only caused by an alarming gender gap, they perpetuate the gap itself. After all, less women can swim if they’re afraid to get their feet wet.

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In Quote 1

I think every woman can think of a time when she kept her mouth shut because she was afraid of the outcome of speaking up. Even when I have a really good idea, sometimes before I can even open my mouth to voice it, the self-doubt starts. And I like to consider myself a risk-taker! “Lean In” has motivated me to have more confidence in my thoughts. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for scary opportunities too. I have to go after them if I want to grow – professionally and personally.

Make Your Partner a Real Partner

I love my husband more than words can express. I really do. But his domestic skills leave much to be desired. This has always been a painful joke between us, and before we got married, I made him swear to help out around the house once we have kids.

Sandberg describes the importance of an equal partnership to female success. Women can’t excel at balancing work and home lives without help. A husband and wife should sit down and divvy up the chores and parenting responsibilities in a way that works specifically for their relationship and their lives. Sometimes, Dad has to pack lunches and get the kids dressed for school. Sometimes Mom has to mow the lawn. It’s a learning process, but rarely can women move their careers forward with an unsupportive partner at home.

After discussing this chapter with Ryan, we decided there’s no point in waiting for us to split the chores a bit more evenly. He’s agreed to, slowly, learn how to cook and help me out more around the house. That, my friends, is truly going to be an adventure. I’m looking forward to it.

Working Together Toward Equality

I’ve always been a little horrified at the Mean Girl culture we live in today. Yes, I’ve participated in catty conversations before – who hasn’t? However, in the last several years, I’ve honestly done my best to avoid gossip, especially the untrue, malicious kind. Luckily, I’ve never experienced this type of culture in the workplace. I’ve always worked with smart, supportive women who have emboldened and inspired me. I am truly grateful for them, and I’ve done my best to return their kindness.

Unfortunately, many women don’t have the professional support system I do. Sandberg describes a work environment in which women compete by attempting to keep one another down, as if there’s only room for one woman at the top. That’s ridiculous. We need more women in power. To get there, we need to help one another up – it’s the only way more we can balance out the gender gap. We have to encourage and support one another. I hope to be a positive force in this, and I’m going to work extra hard from now on help my female colleagues succeed.

Sandberg wraps up her book with resources for women to connect with one another and continue to build their careers, I love that she’s dedicated her life to help other women succeed, and I can’t wait to put her advice to good use.

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In Quote 2

Now that I’ve read “Lean In,” I’m excited to talk with other women about it and how we can move more women into positions of power. There’s a local Lean In Circle launching in March, and I can’t wait to join and meet some new friends!

What do you think?

Have you read “Lean In?” What part of the book resonated with you? If you want to talk more about it, just leave me a comment below or contact me directly. I can’t wait to chat with you!

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