I really wanted to love this book, but honestly, I really didn't.
In chapter 1, Sandberg quotes Judith Rodin, who said, "My generation fought so hard to give all of you choices. We believe in choices. But choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you would make." Sandberg starts with statistics to demonstrate how women are underrepresented in the highest levels of the workforce, and how we as women should strive to be at the top of our chosen fields.
This didn't resonate with me because I don't want to be at the top of my field. I want to do my very best and be my very best in the location that I believe has the most significant impact on my family and community, the school site. After having children, my most basic career need is personal fulfillment. If I choose to work outside the home, I need that work to be highly rewarding and meaningful. Maybe my lack of ambition is what Sandberg refers to as "leaning back", but I see it as a "leaning in" to my world that I get to create. Confidence comes in knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this point in my life.
As I read further into the book, I found there are excellent leadership lessons to be learned from Sandberg's work. The chapter on "making your partner a real partner" was certainly validating. In our household, we absolutely share responsibilities for finances, parenting, housekeeping, and family life. Oftentimes, Matt even does more than his share at home to accommodate my workload at school. This was the agreement we made when I went back to work after having children, and I need to do a better job of showing appreciation to him. He is certainly a rare find!
As a working mom, I regularly struggle with keeping the job I love and the family I love in proper balance. This book brought up so many contradicting feelings of inspiration and guilt. So, I did not enjoy this book. Maybe a book doesn't have to be enjoyed to be great. Quite possibly what makes this book remarkable is the ability to make women evaluate and re-evaluate our place in the world without judgment from others.
And in the end, "My greatest hope is that my son and my daughter will be able to choose what to do with their lives without external or internal obstacles slowing them down or making them question their choices. If my son wants to do the important work of raising children full-time, I hope he is respected and supported. And if my daughter wants to work full-time outside her home, I hope she is not just respected and supported, but also liked for her achievements." -Sheryl Sandberg.
And for those of you who would prefer the shortened version, Her TedTalk is awesome!