Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg Image Courtesy of leanin.org

As Facebook’s COO and mother of two, Sheryl Sandburg knows what it means to be busy. She is a hard worker and, honestly she’s inspirational. In her book, Lean In, Sheryl makes it clear that change is needed for women in the workplace. In fact, change is really needed for everyone in the workplace (and at home). She emphasizes the importance of working towards a world where women and men spend half of their time focused on their careers and half of their time on home life. She’s an advocate for equality among all.

If you don’t know… this isn’t the current situation in the world we live in today. Sure, we’ve come a long way since Lucy Burns was force fed in prison during the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s. However, as Sandburg makes clear, there’s a lot left to work towards to make this world go round more smoothly.

Although a good chunk of her book discussed issues faced during motherhood and parenting (something that’s not in my current life cards), I found a great deal of value in this book (and I’d want to re-read it all over again when and if I become a mother someday). And I could really relate… surprisingly enough. Why do I say it’s surprising? Because I don’t consider myself a feminist, and I very much consider Sandburg one. Reading this book distinguished for me a new definition of feminist. A definition that I’m comfortable falling in line with…

So, what is a feminist? Sandburg writes that it’s “…someone who believes in social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” Interesting. There’s a large part of me that says, no – men, women, well, we have a lot of differences. But the fact that this definition specifies “social, political and economic equality” is something I very highly value.

My problem with feminism? And yes, there is a problem with it. Equality of the sexes dictates that male and females should have equal opportunities… however, it seems as though women may be catching a break in some areas… Certain groups and conferences, exclude men – or make it seemingly uncomfortable for men to take part. Isn’t this what we are trying to get away from doing? Granted, I supposed both men and women alike have separated opportunities sometimes. In general, I believe it is incredibly important that as humans we take steps to reach for the stars, fulfill our purpose and thrive on our own individuality. In addition, each man and woman should have the potential to reach the same heights. And yes, this means dollar for dollar.

All in all, like I mentioned. I could really relate to Sandburg’s stories. The August and September of my Senior year of college, I was contemplating a full time offer with my current place of employment. One of the factors that kept spinning around in my head was – could I raise a family there? As ridiculous as this sounds, because (a) why am I even considering this before I graduate college? (b) before I’m even married? (c) before I even live a little?! (d) need I go on? But, in all honesty, this was a real worry of mine. Where should I live so that I’m in a good school district? In a good neighborhood with other children of similar ages. I’m nuts, I know. Or at least, this is what I thought (along with everyone I mentioned these thoughts to…). However, then I read Lean In. Apparently, this is a common plight women face.

I’ve found sometimes that it helps to fake it.

I literally can’t get enough of this idea. Both Sandburg and Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) really push acting the way you want to feel – faking it. All I can think of is “fake it till you make it!” Sure there are bad days, bad hours, bad moments, bad weeks – but just changing your attitude, just pretending to be happy, just pulling the corners of your mouth in an upward direction can extremely influence your overall level of satisfaction and happiness.

A simple change in posture, led to a significant change in attitude.

Likewise, here we are again. One small adjustment and a mood is completely changed! It’s miraculous! And simple. Two wonderful things.

There are days when I sit in front of my computer at work and am pushing myself so hard that I actually will loose my level of mindfulness and then, I’ll feel an incredibly painful pinch in my neck. Or I’ll become instantly frigid. Or something! And I’ll get up and attempt to rectify the issue, and there you have it! Just like that I feel better. Not just movement, but also relaxed breathing seems to typically do the trick as well!

The most common way people give up their powers is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker (author)

No joke, this life is rough. And to make it through successfully, you need to be confident in your abilities. Or at the very least know how to fake confidence 😉

Just believe in yourself. Believe in what you know and believe in your power to learn. Also, being dedicated, devoted and all other motivated-like words is helpful.

The new normal means that there are just not enough hours in the day. For years, I attempted to solve this problem by skimping on sleep, a common but often counterproductive approach. I realized my mistake partially from observing my children and seeing how a happy child can melt into a puddle of tears when he’s shy a couple hours of sleep. It turns out that adults aren’t much different. Sleeping four or five hours a night induces mental impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit. Sleep deprivation makes people anxious, irritable and confused.

Basically, if you’re skimping on sleep. Stop. Right now. It was only a few months ago when I was hardly sleeping. I was lucky to pick up 6 hours a night. I’ve finally found my way back to sleeping somewhere between seven and eight hours a night… but I tell you what, if I don’t get my seven plus hours a night… good luck tolerating me. 😉

Do the best you can with what you’ve got. – Journalist Mary Curtis

Success is defined as such. I’ve come across this tidbit of wisdom in the past and I can’t help but feel attached to it. I’m a perfectionist at heart. But perfection isn’t reality. And because just going through life telling myself that I’m not living up to the perfection I strive for on a daily basis isn’t even reasonable. I simply just have to remind myself that hey, just do your best. That’s all that matters.

…women’s average annual earnings decrease by 20% if they are out of the workforce for just one year.

Like I said, this life stepping stone isn’t really in the cards for me at the moment. I don’t have kids or any other reason to leave the workforce for an entire year… However, I couldn’t help but allow my jaw to drop to the floor when I read this statistic. 20%. Are you kidding me?! That’s terrifying. And definitely a statistic that will stick with me for future reference. As terrifying as it is, what is this 20% decrease? Is it 20% of the salary one started with? Or is it a 20% over time? Does it have anything to do with bonuses? I’m not sure… but just the same this statistic is something that definitely caused me to raise my eyebrows.

The one piece that I really didn’t agree with in this book was when Sandburg quoted Joan Williams, a U.C. Hastings law professor saying that women who stay at home to raise their families have “settled for no career.” I am wholeheartedly against this. And as Sandburg tells the story of her mother, I can’t help but think she likely doesn’t agree with it either (even though she states that she agrees…). Stay at home moms aren’t settling. They actually end up with more of a diverse career than those who work full time. Why? Because it’s more than likely the stay at home mom volunteers, raises the kids (that includes helping with homework and being a counselor and even a health adviser), cleans, cooks, and probably handles home improvement projects. This is at least seven or eight different career titles. That in of itself is impressive.

Honestly, women should do what they want (so should men). If you want to work in a Fortune 100 company and work your way up to CEO, then go for it! That’s awesome. If you want to be a stay at home mom (or dad) and forgo the career thing, that’s awesome too! Like all things, there are benefits and drawbacks to each side.

In the end, if you love what you do – whether it be a stay at home mom or a career-loving mother or somewhere in between. You should do you. If you fulfill your dreams, then you are more likely to be more productive, more happy, and have an all-around more accomplished life.

Sandburg ends making the point that we need to stick together, look out for one another and truly push ourselves to reach our goals in life. No matter what they are. Sandburg’s words and advice put me at ease. Overall, I truly enjoyed her book and highly recommend that women and men alike read it.

  • sounds like an interesting read

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    I agree, this was a great book to read – very inspirational!

    • You’re so right, Dana! Thanks for stopping by My Life In Snippets 🙂

  • I enjoyed your review! And I LOVE your conclusion… staying home with your kids, having a career, etc, should all come down to doing what you love and what you find fulfilling. You’ve only got one life! Whatever you choose to do should be what will bring YOU joy and purpose.

    I agree that I would also want to know more about the 20% statistic… seems like it is probably industry-specific if nothing else. Being a teacher with four years experience this year, vs a teacher with four years of experience next year, won’t really change my earning for that year either way (and honestly being a teacher with five years experience next year wouldn’t change it very much either, haha). And I’m pretty sure that no job gives a 20% raise every year (somebody tell me where to find it if it does!! :P) so….? But maybe I’m misunderstanding.

    Anyway, some great thoughts. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Thanks Sarah 😀 I really loved Lean In! Such an interesting read!!