Much fuss has been made recently about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” I have only read the first two chapters of the book so far, but what struck me about the title (and its attendant message) is the visual and kinesthetic idea of “leaning in”.
My initial impression of her message is that its goal is to encourage *everyone* (not just men) to claim one’s destiny, to aim high, and to be the most effective ‘best ME’ one can be. She urges women to not hide our light under a bushel just because society’s norms tend to require women to be more passive, conciliatory, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I find that message inspiring, even at my mature, more cynical, age.
Ms. Sandberg and I are both fortunate enough to benefit from superb educational opportunities. We’re both married and have two children. And I believe we are both intelligent, thoughtful, ambitious women. But when it comes to our careers, the similarities disappear. I don’t think I have ever been as driven or motivated as Ms. Sandberg to achieve high positions in the corporate world. Not that I lack ambition or motivation – it’s just that my ambition manifests itself outside of the arena of the executive boardroom. Which is not a judgement of her or of me.
Still, her message intrigued me. But “lean in”? I sometimes feel that if I lean in any further, klutz that I am, I will fall forward onto my face! Plus, I already spend a great deal of time leaning forward: hunched over a keyboard, playing with my children, feeding the cat. So what movement resonates better with me? Then I thought about recent instances in which I had been brave, had stood up for my skills, had taken professional risks to grow my skills and my career. And the image / movement that I’m visualizing is not “lean” but “reach”.
Reach over to connect with someone new. Reach forward to bridge a gap. Reach across, to join up with an interesting group. To me, “reach” carries a message of interlinking, of strengthening connections, of a web of arms, and – ultimately – of attainment of a goal. So I think I will finish Ms. Sandberg’s book, and I will teach both my son and my daughter to keep reaching!
Have you read the book? What image do you see in your mind when you think of empowering behavior?
Watch the book trailer for Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER:
DecaturMamaofTwo is a Gemini, a reader, a linguist, and a recently-inspired runner. She is mama to two kids (almost six, and two) and married to a very patient man. Some of her favorites include reading, laughing, eating chocolate and a-hah moments. Her secret vice is reading trashy romances. Currently she is teaching high school French.