Lean In was a great book for me to read - and it was a great book for me right now - at this specific stage in my life - I firmly believe that it would be a great book for anyone at any stage in life!
To be clear: I'm not done reading this book. I read each page carefully. I highlight things and make notes. I journal about said highlights and notes. What I'm about to share is just the beginning.
"She is very ambitious" is not a compliment in our culture.
Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear: the fear of being a bad mother / wife / daughter.
And every time I didn't embarrass myself - or even excelled - I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.
I have attributed my success to luck, hard work, and help from others.
I learned over time that while it was hard to shake feelings of self-doubt, I could understand that there was a distortion.
When I don't feel confident, one tactic I've learned is that it sometimes helps to fake it.
It's a cliche, but opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized.
"You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have." -Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's chief technology officer
But I also know that in order to continue to grow and challenge myself, I have to believe in my own abilities. I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not. But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.
If a woman is competent, she does not seem nice enough. If a woman seems really nice, she is considered more nice than competent.
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, believes that learning to withstand criticism is a necessity for women. Early in her career, Arianna realized that the cost of speaking her mind was that she would inevitably offend someone.
Her (Arianna's) advice is that we should let ourselves react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticized evokes for us. And then we should quickly move on.
He said that when you want to change things, you can't please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren't making enough progress. Mark was right.
The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, getting blocked by external barriers, or reentering the workforce after taking time off.
The cost of stability is often diminished opportunities for growth.
Women need to shift from thinking "I'm not ready to do that" to thinking "I want to do that - and I'll learn by doing it."
We cannot assume that interactions between men and women have a sexual component. And everyone involved has to make sure to behave professionally so women - and men - feel safe in all settings.
I can't tell you all how often I wanted to shout 'YES!' while reading this book. I often stopped to call a girfriend just to bounce ideas around. I hope you enjoyed this book - or are considering enjoying it - male and female alike!