- Book: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
- Author: Sheryl Sandberg
- Publication date: 2013
Recently, I’ve read this book for the second time and this book always surprised me in an unprecedented way. Sandberg is now COO at Facebook and formerly leader of Google, she has an amazing career and a happy family. Through 11 chapters, she gives valuable life lessons from her own experiences as well as researching from others. The principle idea Sandberg want to spread is that if we want a world with greater equality, we should let both men and women feel free to decide what they wanna do without judgements from the society.
Lesson 1: Be responsible for your success
There is one fact that women tend to be more cautious rather than men when facing with promoting opportunities, new jobs and so on. When coming to this revelation, I used to deny it completely, mainly because I strongly believe that I’m an independent young girl who is always ready to new tasks and opportunities coming to me. However, taking a look back on what I went through and observing other women around me, I realize that what Sandberg says is true. As a woman, we keep ourselves from advancing because of a pile of factors: social expectation about a perfect wife, a lack of domestic assertiveness or a traditional stereotype. “We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve,” she writes. Indeed, when women start to have family, this tendance reveals more and more.
If we (women) want to succeed in business, we must ‘lean in’ at the boardroom and do not wait for someone to notice us, do not wait to be invited, but to advocate for ourselves. She argues that sexism in the workplace can be largely overcome by efforts from women to no longer defer to men at the table, for women to take credit for their work, and to be willing to put themselves into the arena, no matter how “bossy” one may have been thought about us. In the end, we are the only one who take responsibility for our life, for our happiness.
Lession 2: Make your partner a real partner
Many women talk about the importance of “supportive” partners who share the household duties and childcare responsibilities, but Sandberg pushes that idea further, talking about marriage like a business partnership. “I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is. I don’t know of a single woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully—and I mean fully — supportive of her career. No exceptions,” she writes. “And contrary to the popular notion that only unmarried women can make it to the top, the majority of the most successful female business leaders have partners.”
I am totally impressed by the eighth chapter of the book. She specialises in very tough messages to women that they need to seek for help from others to advance in their career, and their partner have to be the first one sharing with them. In an equal society, men and women have to get the fact that a working wife and mother means figuring out new ways of parenting and sharing domestic responsibilities at home. It’s certainly a strong call to action for women to choose right partner. In other words, it’s not just about finding a man who will pitch in at home, or who will support your aspirations in the workplace, it’s about redefining traditional feminine and masculine roles.
As she does in other chapters, Sandberg offers practical suggestions to manage this shift away from the traditional model. In her family, Sandberg and her husband find it helpful to decide which responsibilities each will take, they’ve made it a practice to “sit down at the beginning of every week and figure out which one of us will drive our children to school every day”
Lesson 3: Done is better than perfect
No one has it all. But it’s easy to think that everyone else does, especially when we get most of our information about someone’s life from their Instagram or other social media posts. Our business is preventing ourselves from the myth of perfection. We just need to try our best and focus on what makes us happy. As Facebook’s wall so proudly displays: Done is better than perfect
The most valuable lesson I learned about doing it all and deciding what mattered happened in university. In the past, I used to be out of balance several times, by insisted on having perfect score or finishing immediately working tasks. This often caused me to say no to spending time with my family and my friends. Through the ups and downs, I learned to discern what was important and what was not, to manage my time budget and to enjoy my personal life as well as my professional life. Maybe I am not an excellent person who can do it all, but I much happier than my old self.
Sandberg’s book is a real-page turner. I would recommend this book to everyone, to young women entering the workforce and looking for a way to advance their careers, to old women trying to find their voice at workplace and to sit at the table, to men who wanna understand more about the other-half of the world and what they can do to make change happened.