Have you read the headlines or even read the new bestselling book of Sheryl Sandberg’s? Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and has written Lean In: Women, Work And The Will To Lead. When it first hit the shelves I observed many career woman versus stay-at-home moms squaring off in social media on the topics discussed. My sister-in-law, a successful doctor, gave it to me to read. I have been slowly reading it and will finish the book this week or maybe this month should be my goal.
I have not disagreed with Sandberg’s points and relate to many of her examples and stories of being a woman in management. I find myself agreeing, pausing and wanting to take notes.
Two months ago this week, I left my state government “career” job. Sandberg’s insight has reminded me that a career is not a ladder. It’s a jungle gym. Her words have given me flashes back to when I was the lone woman trying to deal with male leaders. The Heidi/ Howard study highlighted by Sandberg’s resonated with me, essentially the societal barriers and perceptions we have about women versus men in careers. To truly capture all that I have taken in from this book, I will do a future blog series on it for women or men trying to find their stride in their career, looking to scale back or just trying to balance personal versus professional life.
The jungle gym of my career for the past two months has me leaning into my family and community. It has given me new views. I had a one speaking engagement that gave me my first paycheck as an independent consultant and speaker. I had three business related meetings. But mostly, I was home, in my small town or at my kids’ school.
I don’t need a ladder to climb to lean in. I might climb down to go up or go sideways to get the view I am longing for now.
Leaning in is not the same for all of us. I am never going to be Sheryl Sandberg. I am driven. I have goals. But Sheryl Sandberg has done more in her career than I have. Yet, she and I struggle with the same challenges as women with careers.
Thankfully, we do not need to all be the same in our jungle gym adventure. Sandberg provides insight and motivation to me through her book. Maybe I could help her unwind by teaching her to bake a cake? Something tells me she is not baking this cake like my girls and I did for Nana’s birthday (my mother-in-law).
My five-year-old Miss E saw The Pioneer Woman make this cake on a Food Network show. She insisted we had to make it. And while I am not a gourmet baker, we pulled it off together.
Together we created a memory that the girls and Nana will always remember.
There is no ladder to climb, a paycheck or title that gives me the moments I receive from leaning in at home.
Driving across the prairie to meet my parents in the middle of the day to watch my son, Hunter, at his first high school track meet and enjoy some licorice with the girls is something I could have never done in my former career. But now, I have.
Hunter, Miss E and Miss A and I visited 107 year old Great Aunt Iris, 200 miles from our home. Miss E had made her a picture. Iris had a stuffed bear and a stuffed rabbit to give the girls.
Life is indeed a jungle gym that requires us to lean in to stay on, hold on, get stronger and keep climbing.
Leaning in at home benefits I now know. My husband and I have had more conversations, laughs and meals together. I have taken more walks. I have exercised at 6 a.m. with a group of local women a couple of days a week. We took a Disney Cruise vacation as a family. I have read stories, played dolls and given more hugs to my daughters. I have spent more time with our teenager while volunteering with his local FFA chapter and helping out with his track team.
Leaning in at home is mandatory if you are going to try to also balance leaning in for your career.
Today I am embarking on a my first business trip in months. I am leaning in and going to keep working in communications consulting and speaking on topics I am passionate about like motherhood, finding your voice and of course, food and agriculture. But where my leaning in will happen the most remains at home.
How do you find yourself leaning in through the jungle gym of life?