Lean In: Book Review

One of the books I was determined to read this year was “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg.

Unlike Sheryl, I do not have an MBA from Harvard and I’m not the COO of my company, so I was skeptical as to what she could offer to those of us just trying to get to the next level. I figured that there was certainly something I could learn from a woman who has made it to the top of her field and I read this book with an open mind.

(click here to view trailer if you cannot see it above)

Here were my four favorite, eye-opening parts of the book:

1.  Imposter Syndrome

“Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can’t seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for who they really are- imposters with limited skills or abilities.”  (page 28)

After I finished reading this book I found myself in the office of my department head.  When I left the room I realized that I didn’t use one- not one- tactic I had read about in this book!  I was leaning out- not leaning in.  I should have been more confident in my ability to accomplish the goal we were discussing.  But the truth is there was a bit of doubt in my mind, so my words matched my mind, not my heart- that I really really wanted to reach that goal and felt I could do it.

2.  Permission to Feel

“We should let ourselves react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticized evokes for us.  And then we should quickly move on.” (Page 49-50)  Lesson learned from Arianna Huffington

When I was just starting out I remember feeling so emotional about things, I couldn’t even communicate without tearing up.  My tears came from frustration and lack of being understood.  But after tearing up, I’d let those feelings linger.  It was so hard to move on… which I wish I would’ve done.

Now that I’m older and have more experience, I think this is great advice.  You cannot tell women not to feel. We should feel and learn to move on.  There are usually bigger and better things that await us.

3.  Teamwork in the Home

“Anyone who wants her mate to be a true partner must treat him as an equal- and equally capable- partner… wives who engage in gatekeeping behaviors do five more hours of family work per week than wives who take a more collaborative approach.”  (page 109)

I learned this one soon after we hired our afternoon babysitter.  I cannot possibly do everything and needed to let go… and majorly lower my expectations. Our babysitter and my husband are not mind readers.  I had to let go of the control and accept that if the end goal was met, it didn’t really matter how we got there.

4.  Own Your Decisions

“One of the conflicts inherent in having choice is that we all make different ones.  There is always an opportunity cost, and I don’t know any woman who feels comfortable with all her decisions.  As a result, we inadvertently hold that discomfort against those who remind us of the path not taken.” (page 166-167)

I completely agreed with this- there is always someone reminding me of the path not taken.  They come in all different forms, but the one I see on a daily basis is the woman next to me who is my age and much further ahead in her career than I am.

Moms makes many sacrifices within their careers and even though we all feel mom-guilt about not spending enough time with our kids, we also feel an equal dose of “that could’ve been me.”  Just because I would never trade in my kids for someone’s title at work doesn’t mean it’s always easy to own the decisions I’ve made.

Have you read Lean In?  What were your favorite parts?  What lessons have you applied to your life?

Until next time,