Friday, April 19, 2013

Lean(ing) In: Workout & Wine Book Club at Uplift Studios

Wednesday night, I had the privilege of discussing Lean In with a group of amazing women at Uplift Studios (after a fantastic workout). I say privilege, despite paying for the workout and subsequent wine & food chat, because it was incredible to listen to women at all different stages of their careers discuss their triumphs and setbacks in the workplace and balancing work and their personal lives.

(credit: Ashley)
It was also great to see some familiar faces. Hi Theodora, Jackie, and Ashley!

If you haven't read it, Lean In is a book by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, that discusses women in the workplace. I really enjoyed the book and felt like it provided a terrific jumping off point for further discussion about how we can better succeed in our own careers and help others as well.


I know some think that discussing women's issues is silly. That if we just don't discuss them and keep working, eventually equality will reign. And I'd love to believe that.

But I've definitely seen inappropriate behavior in the workplace. And when the percentage of female CEOs in the world has barely budged in the past 10 years, it's hard to think we're moving toward gender equality in the workplace.

So I've been wanting to discuss Lean In on the blog because I thought it was a fantastic book with a lot of fodder for discussion. However, I wasn't sure where to start. There's just so much to discuss -- workplace norms, societal conventions, gender dynamics, picking and sticking with a partner, how to react to biased or discriminatory comments/actions. The list goes on.

(credit: Uplift via Ashley)
I want to discuss the things I think I gained the most from reading it and hear about others' thoughts on these topics. 

1. Don't plan for a life you don't yet have. 
I have so been guilty of this! Thinking that we can't handle certain jobs when we'll have kids -- five years down the road. Thinking we shouldn't take a job because it'll interfere with our relationships -- that we don't yet have.

Sheryl Sandberg's thesis that we should "lean in" is basically saying to pursue job opportunities because the higher ranked you are, the more control you have of your schedule. You might be working long hours, but you can move those hours around your schedule instead of someone else's.

2. Accept compliments, don't downplay them.
So often, women undermine compliments. If you tell me you like my dress, I'll tell you I got it on sale. If you tell me I look great, I'll try to rebut that, too. And perhaps worst of all, if you compliment work I did, I'll downplay it, calling it a team effort or saying it wasn't anything amazing.

This can be so damaging because (a) supervisors want to promote people who have confidence in themselves and (b) suddenly your work seems less awesome to that person. Why would you want that?

Accepting compliments with a smile and an enthusiastic "thank you" is something I'm working on, but I'm constantly shocked at how hard that is!

3. Stop saying sorry, unless you actually need to apologize.
Again, this is something I was already aware of but Lean In reminded me of it further. Women tend to apologize and say "I'm sorry" much more frequently than men and often for things that we don't need to apologize over. For example, women tend to say, "I'm sorry, but I think ..." Ladies, let's not apologize for our opinions!

Now that I've bared my work soul, I'd love to start a conversation in the comments! I know the book is controversial, so I'm really curious what people think. 

What do you think about these ideas? How do you feel about compliments on looks at work (things that go beyond, "that's a nice dress" or "cool shirt")??

1 comment:

  1. I am 100 percent guilty of downplaying compliments and saying sorry way too much--and I have no idea why. Both have become normal responses that I don't think about; I say each automatically. Very interesting ... and a reaction I need to work on changing!