Shortly after learning about Sheryl Sandberg’s New York Times best selling Lean In book, I wanted not only to read it, but also to share it as a gift with a special young woman in my life. With her passion, ambition, drive, and blossoming professional career, I felt that she might greatly benefit from the book.
Before buying the book, I asked her if she would be interested in reading it. Surprisingly, she not only wanted to read it, but also requested that I purchase a second copy for her similarly young manager who was currently in a dilemma and thought that she may gain from it. She had recently discovered that she was pregnant (unplanned) with her third child and was weighing her options. Just the previous year, she had taken maternity leave to care for her second child and she was afraid that if her boss and his superiors found out that she was pregnant again, her job could be in jeopardy.
Sadly, many women echo this experience in the workplace including myself. Whether a pregnancy is planned or not, women fear the repercussions of sharing this information. From anxiety about loosing their jobs if they take maternity leave, to the negative impact time away from work may have on their position within the company, this wonderful gift of life weighs heavily on their mind.
The notion that a young woman has to “weigh her options” out of fear of loosing her job and in some instances, her livelihood underscores the relevance and importance of Sandberg’s book and how it can help women navigate through their sometimes hostile workplace.
Admittedly, I was skeptical about the book. After all, how could one of the most powerful women in business with access to tremendous resources be relatable? Nonetheless, my curiosity got the best of me and I was one of the first in line (not literally) when the book went on sale at Amazon! Happily, my reservations quickly faded as soon as I started reading the book.
It’s a well written, thought-provoking, and inspiring book with great insight that is sure to transform women’s lives around the world. An essential guide that will help women navigate through their professional and personal lives, it’s a must read for both women…and men! Yes, men! The book exposes the issues that women face in the workplace and provides helpful guidelines for tackling these challenges as they try to move ahead. Without this knowledge, the workspace is unlikely to change no matter how much effort women make to lean in since men are the majority of key decision makers in the workplace.
I’m glad I read the book and excited that I was able to share it with my special friend and her boss. I felt compelled to share my experience with you in the hope that like me you might be inspired by its poignant message and not be afraid to lean in to new career opportunities, new jobs, stretch goals, and eventually leadership or management positions that you rightly deserve.
Here are my 5 key takeaways and most helpful messages from the book followed by my favorite quotes:
- Don’t Let Fear Get in Your Way – fear can be paralyzing and can stop you from realizing your goals and dreams. Once you get past your fears, there is nothing that is unattainable.
- Be the Best at What You Do and You will Attract Mentors – mentors gravitate towards people who excel in what they do. Do not ask someone to be your mentor. Demonstrate your capabilities and the right people will volunteer to be your mentors.
- Be Open to Feedback both Good & Bad – ignorance impairs growth. Allow others to share their thoughts and opinions with you. You might discover something that can be valuable not only to you, but also to the community at large.
- Don’t Be a Perfectionist – sometimes in search of perfection, we end up not accomplishing anything at all. Strive to achieve your objective and learn to recognize and accept when what you have completed is good enough.
- Speak Up! People cannot change what they don’t know. If you believe that something can be done better or needs to change, communicate it to the appropriate person. Often times, this person is oblivious to the issue.
Quotes I loved:
- “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
- “Excel and you will find a mentor” NOT “Get a mentor and you will excel.”
- “Asking for input is not a sign of weakness but often the first step to finding a path forward.”
- “The upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.” Fred Kofman.
- “Done is better than perfect.” Jennifer Aaker.
- “The right question is not “Can I do it all? But “Can I do what’s most important for me and my family.”
- “Doing the best you can with what you’ve got.” Mary Curtis.
- “Talking can transform minds, which can transform behaviors, which can transform actions.”
- Shared experience forms the basis of empathy and in turn can spark the institutional changes we need.”
- Our job is not to make young grateful women but to make them ungrateful so they can keep going.” Susan B Anthony.
- “We need to be grateful for what we have but dissatisfied with the status quo.
Read the book or planning to read it? What were your favorite quotes or tips from the book?