Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lean In

After a morning of packing snacks, brushing hair, and locating lost folders, the kids were finally on the bus. The door had barely closed when my phone started ringing. "Were you watching the news this morning? You need to go out and buy Lean In, for yourself and for your daughters."

I had caught bits and pieces of the interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in between conversations with my little ones.  Every morning, once the house is quiet, as quiet as it can get with a one year old, I will start catching up on the news and current events of the day.

Without having the chance to read Sandberg's book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, I quickly perused my "go-to" news sites.  “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and men ran half our homes,” writes Sandberg.  She says that women are being overlooked for positions due to poor negotiating shills and a lack of confidence.  She feels women are responsible for why men dominate at the highest levels of corporate and political leadership.  Sandberg believes one of the main reasons women don't "lean in" is because of children and family, even if the woman does not have children yet.  This causes them to look for flexible positions which will provide reduced responsibilities in preparation for the future.

I have been reading many responses to Sandberg.  Bloggers, especially some mom bloggers, seem to have taken offense.  By leaning in to their careers, is Sandberg telling women to lean away from family?  In some respects, yes, she is.  If you look back at my life and choices there should not be any question as to which direction I am leaning.  Certain people, who shall remain nameless, have gone out of their way to tell me that I am not successful because I do not work outside of the home.  They have gone as far as to tell me that I am wasting my college degree and that I am not worthy of having nice things because I am not going to an office.  I am wondering if that was the reason for my early morning phone call?  Did they miss the big picture?

Sandberg's intention is to encourage people to lean in to overcome obstacles to achieve a goal.  When I received Josie's diagnoses I leaned in to my computer screen to do as much research as I could so that I could be her best advocate.  Bedrest, pre-term labor, and parenting a micro-preemie caused me to lean in to the uncertainty and fear that came with not knowing what the next day would bring.  I lean in as far as I can reach as I stand my ground when dealing with editors.  I have learned that the more I lean in, the more others start leaning in with me.

How do you lean in?

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