Have you read Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In yet? I first heard of Sandburg’s revolutionary read through my book club girlfriends. While the book was voted off our book club “To Read” list (too serious for our week night out standards), I decided to pick up a copy of Lean In to see what all the fuss was about.
By “pick up a copy”, I mean I downloaded Lean In on my kindle, hopped on the exercise bike in my garage and started reading, occasionally wiping sweat droplets from my screen as I clicked through the pages.
Ask anyone who has read (and even some who haven’t) what they thought of Lean In and strong, unfiltered opinions will undoubtedly follow. It seems that some part of Lean In strikes a cord with everyone- male, female, employed and unemployed. Sandberg’s self described “sort of feminist manifesto” explores gender equality in the workplace and the need for women to rise to the top of corporate culture. While it sounds like a potential bore, it’s actually a quick, easy but thought provoking read.
Sandburg raises concern about the disproportionate number of males in leadership. For example, she notes the number of male CEOs of Fortune 500 companies far surpasses the number of female CEOs. Having held lofty positions in renowned companies herself, Sandburg has witnessed too many women hesitate to stand up for themselves, tout their accomplishments and make pivotal life decisions prematurely. She argues it’s time for women to step up.
Regardless of if you want to become a Fortune 500 CEO, start a medical practice in your tiny hometown or are deciding whether to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner, Sheryl’s likable and go get ’em personality encourages you to go for it. As I read Lean In while sweating it out on my bike (no time to read, must double task!), I felt myself peddling faster fueled by her my newfound resolve.
For me, the most valuable chapters in Lean In describe Sandburg’s family life, how she and her husband balance two demanding jobs, children and life’s daily struggles. Family and career aren’t mutually exclusive she explains. While Sandburg warns that juggling both work and family isn’t easy, with a little effort and planning it can be done enjoyably.
Some readers argue that Sheryl Sandburg can’t offer practical advice. She has it easy. She fell into top jobs, had influential professional connections and came from a rather privileged background. Most American women can’t relate to her lifestyle. While this is true, it’s clear reading Lean In that although Sandburg’s career may have been partially born from these advantages, she works hard. She has earned her place.
Nurses, nurse practitioners and others whose aspirations involve less than CEO status (and this isn’t a bad thing) can learn from Sandburg’s advice and work ethic. Her words may give you the courage to ask for that raise you deserve, clarify your goals, take the plunge to furthering your education or simply have an honest conversation with your spouse about finding a better work-family balance.
Agree or disagree with Lean In’s message, read it for the discussion it will spark.