Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lean In

Last week I posted about how obsessed I am with Levo League. Today I'm going to share with you some of their content to help you see why as a member of Gen Y you should be obsessed with them too.

I'm sure you've heard of Sheryl Sandberg and the book she wrote, Lean In. If you haven't, what are you doing with your life? Well she joined Levo League a few weeks back for Office Hours (a video segment where professionals talk about their experiences and take questions from those following along) to talk about this idea of "leaning in". Even if you think you know what she said (because you read the book, follow her on twitter, saw one of the million news articles about her) go watch the video!

Confession time, before I watched that video I kinda hated the whole "lean in" thing. Yeah, that's right I hated it. I thought (wrongly) that it was some feminist propaganda that was judging me and the choices that I wanted in my life. Well I was wrong, and I'm so glad I've seen the error of my assumptions. Sheryl's book is now on my "to read" list.

"Leaning in" isn't about having to want to become the CEO of your company. "Leaning In" is about making every option a viable option when deciding your career path. It's about realizing that "because I'm a woman" isn't a legitimate reason for not wanting it. It's about realizing that wanting to run for public office is NOT something to be embarrassed about or make excuses for. One of my most vivid memories from elementary school was when asked in 5th grade what I wanted to be when I grow up and 10-year-old me wanted to be President of the United States. The shame and embarrassment I felt when all my classmates started laughing is not something I'll soon forget. I quickly changed my career goal to US Ambassador to the Vatican, a job that only passed the test by my peers because no other 10-year-olds had a clue what that meant. Since then I've changed my career goals many times (senior year of high school after reading Poisonwood Bible and Heart of Darkness I wanted to be a teacher in Africa, clearly I missed the point of those books), but that moment has forever stayed with me. Was this memory part of the reason I was so reluctant to become president of my sorority chapter? Today I don't want to run for public office, but it's not because I don't think I'm qualified enough (I firmly believe once you lead a sorority chapter you can do anything), it's because I have other passions. Passions that I am going to lean into so I can rise to the top of my chosen career path.

One of my favorite things Sheryl talks about in her Office Hours chat is how people still try to guilt her about being a working mom, but no one would dare say those things to a working dad. This is something that I had never thought about, but it is so true. No one ever sees a working dad and thinks to themselves "that man should really quit his job and be at home raising his child." My mom is now a stay at home mom, but it wasn't always that way. My mom worked to support our family (before I was born) while my dad was in Med School. That takes a strong person. Although I never experienced having a working mother, I have always experienced having a strong mother. A mother who has always believed in me and (whether I realized it or not) has always encouraged me to lean in.

Another thing that I love that Sheryl talked about it how from a young age girls are labeled as bossy, but you hardly ever hear a boy referred to in that way. Something in society has decided that this behavior in boys is normal, but in girls it is not. She talked about how her brother and sister joke that they were not her first friends, but her first employees. She jokes that the next time someone calls a girl bossy, correct them to say that that girl has executive leadership skills.
True story, I've done this before. My family always has a huge debate when trying to decide on a where to go eat, a huge debate that usually involves everyone claiming they "don't care" where we decide. I've often been known to end the debate and singularly decide on the restaurant. This decision is usually met with someone angrily calling me bossy, to which I respond "no, I'm just being a leader." Thank you Sheryl for backing me up on this one.  

Sheryl finished her speech with a challenge for us all to think about: What would you do if you weren't afraid? This is such a great question, and one that I'm really challenging myself to think about and (more importantly) act upon.

So have I converted you to become a Levo Leaguer? I hope so. Tomorrow they are hosting Soledad O'Brien for Office Hours. I hope you'll join in on the conversation and hear what she has to say.

1 comment:

  1. Just bought her book! I'm hoping to read it soon... preferably outside if it isn't too hot!


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