Lean In Book Review: A Guide Book For Every Woman Who Is Smart, Opinionated and Ambitious

My school & college life was all about hearing that I was extra, I was extra enthusiastic, I was extra demanding, I was extra ambitious. I would always be hesitant about it. I guess this being extra was the thing which has to lead me to an extra higher designation, extra pay and made me extra successful than others.

I was always made to feel at the professional level that I did not have enough experience rather than looking at my skills, I was too young, I don’t have compassion and I am too practical. If I would have listened to all opinions which were thrown to me then, I would have been working at a news channel with peanut salary, trying to make myself happy with few goodwill stories and a batch of bravery for surviving it all.

This book has been very important to me as a woman because it tells you the things which matter, with a blunt language and humor. It was empowering to read it because everything it said made sense, and it was relatable to the core. I am 25, working as a manager, at the age where half of my friends are married or have started a family. And, here I am, planning a leap of faith.

As growing up, I was always told I am bossy, ambitious and practical. I took it in as negative feedback for a long time. I was very much an affected by the way by boldness and ambitions were taken up. Due to this I never asked what I wanted, I was hesitated to ask for leadership and felt guilty if I was good at something than my peers at work. I was always made to feel that my success was not because of my hard work but because I was lucky or was in the right place. 

Let’s start with the thing I learned from men, I have learned to enjoy my success from men, they know how to take credit, they know how to enjoy the achievements despite the factors which helped them to achieve and it’s a good feeling. “When we ask men why they did a good job, they’ll say, ‘I’m awesome. obviously. Why are you even asking?’ If you ask women why they did a good job, what they’ll say is someone helped them, they got lucky, they worked really hard.” The attitude does the difference says, Sheryl.

She talks about many things, about challenges women face at work, things they should be taking charge of, and how men can help us have a successful career.  Let’s narrow the major points down:

Ambition Gap

She takes you on a journey which starts with removing the ambition gap. What is an ambition gap? The difference between a man’s ambitions and a woman’s ambitions. She says,”Professional ambition is expected of men but is optional—or worse, sometimes even a negative—for women. “She is very ambitious” is not a compliment in our culture.” It is true, there has been hardly any motivation for biggest leaps, decisions, and admiration like I won’t be able to survive it.

What will you do if you were not afraid?

And, fear is the root of hesitation in women for not being ambitious, we feel we are disappointing people around for being rebellious, for being demanding, that we might lose people. Sheryl says,”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.”

Sit at the table

She moves with next step, once you have decided your ambitions, you need to sit at the table. It means that you need to show confidence and courage to sit equally at meetings and lead. Many women we find always sit at the corner seats when it is all men meeting, or when women are outnumbered at a gathering. We must make sure that women to sit at the table. She points out that, nobody gets the corner office by sitting on the side of the table.

Success and Likeability

We spend so much time thinking of the likeability at work as a woman, we think it is our social responsibility to be likable and nice. The approach towards the traits is extraordinary, It is as simple as it gets, takes an example of someone using a swear word. How often our male bosses use swear words? And, suddenly when you hear it from woman boss, it becomes not acceptable, it comes back to me in words that I am acting like a man and it is not right. And, success is the same. Sheryl says,“Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”

It is a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder.

Here we talk about how we think we are not ready whenever we are offered a big project, we are scared of the new requirements the project will need, the new skills which you will have to develop. But here is a thing, you need to shift from thinkingÍ am not ready to – I want to do that – and I will learn by doing it. This is how I have come so far, you have to look for possible areas you might grow than what you already excel at. You have to take charge, you can’t wait for power to be offered to you.

Are you my mentor?

We all look for people who can mentor us to achieve our goals, to learn more, to achieve more. The truth is you will never find a mentor by yourself, your mentor will find you. I spent quite a time looking for one, and I did not realize that I already met the mentors without even looking for it. In my bosses at internships and first two jobs. They not only gave me confidence but they embraced my traits like boldness, leadership, and willingness to learn.

Seek and speak the truth

Sharing emotions build deeper relationships. Motivation comes from working on things we care about, Sheryl says. I am always told that you should keep a distance from your team, personal relationships will make them respect you less. But the thing is sharing emotions only builds relations and motivation come from working on things you deeply care about and working with people you care about, and willing to discuss problems makes better managers, partners, and peers. She adds,“Bring your whole self to work. I don’t believe we have a professional self Monday through Friday and a real self the rest of the time. It is all professional and it is all personal.”’

Make Your Partner A Real Partner

You cannot survive alone. That’s the truth. You need someone who is with you in and out, someone who understands and is willing to give in to your needs as an ambitious woman without feeling insecure. She says,“When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”

The Myth Of Doing It All

This is my favorite chapter, that once we take the decision we tend to kill yourself over making it right but we often forget that done is better than perfect. We give too much to a job, too much to a project and too much to a task. We forget that we have choices, we have the power to use them and as Ephron insists, “It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”

If you are looking for motivation, this s is it. Go ahead, find your mentor because I just found mine while reading this book.

Cover pic: techdiversitymagazine.org

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