Honestly, I had no interest in reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. It didn’t appeal to me. It has created such a storm since it was published in mid-2013. It is still being hotly debated. Recently I read two post by trusted peers, Amy Vernon and Ann Handley on the topics of leaning in and #BanBossy. I gave in and went to my local library and borrowed the book to finally read it. I felt as though I needed to make up on own mind on these topics.
I’ve been very fortunate in my career to be surrounded by strong, smart women where bossy was never uttered in describing a co-worker. I spent most of my career working for a Girl Scout Council. The CEO I worked with didn’t put limits on her staff. She encouraged everyone to move forward and excel. She understood in order to keep the organization strong she needed good people and many of those good people were young. Through her guidance and support, I am the professional I am today. An environment was created where staff could learn and grow not only benefiting the organization, but the individual as well. An environment Sandberg talks about in her book.
When we decided to have a child, there was no thoughts of me not going back to work and to continue my career. And working at the Girl Scout council I didn’t feel as though a choice would have to be made: career vs child. I could have both and be successful. I have a true partner in life. We share caring for our son and the management of the household. We support each other’s careers.
I off-ramped by my own accord six months after my son was born with full support of my husband. And if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be where I am today. I like to say I off-ramped off the interstate to take a state road filled wonderful interesting stops along the way. Think of it as jumping off I-95 and taking old Route 1. The pace changes as do the attractions yet you will get to your desired destination. While I wasn’t working full-time, I kept moving forward professionally. I was consulting on projects that I found interesting and participating in professional development. Thanks to taking that state road, I was able to become an early adopter of social media before many of my peers had ever thought to use it as a channel to communicate for brands/organizations, allowed me to hone my professional passions to crisis communications/reputation management/social media, start my own boutique firm focusing on those passions, become a newspaper columnist sharing my curiosity about my profession, and write a book. So I guess it depends on what route you take if you decide to off-ramp when you have children. It can be a good move.
As I read Lean In, I found myself shaking my head with agreement. Nothing Sandberg says angered me as a woman, professional, wife, or mother. Just made sense to me based my life experience. She isn’t saying that every woman needs to be a super woman. What I’m hearing is every choice is personal (and should be respected), but before you make that choice you need to be true to yourself, look at all the options fully, and don’t limit yourself.
I can’t leave without showing the newest Girl Scout PSA. And as a life-time member of Girl Scouts, I’m torn about the #BanBossy campaign. What I will say is that it is causing a discussion and I hope that it get people thinking about gender stereotypes in language. And how damaging that is for both girls and boys.
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