When choosing a book, I always read reviews; however, I never contributed to the Amazon or Audible reviews; I felt intimidated addressing the literary attributes of my prose of choice. Therefore, here on my blog, I write book raves; my intent is not to discuss every aspect of the book and worry if my review is 'helpful' or not, it is to share with this tribe, the books I adore. I will recommend books and share their significant positive impact on my life.
Why I Rave
My first book rave must of course be about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I chose this one because it opened my eyes wide to my true passion in life. It is embarrassing how excited I get when I think of helping other women Lean In to their career. The desire to support my sisters in arms lead me to forming different circles of support and now create this blog.
How a Rocket Scientist Leans In
I discovered this profound book in the most appropriate way. I had the opportunity to attend a Women in Defense mentoring event, the guest speaker Debra Facktor Lepore, VP & GM Washington Operations, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., provided a great presentation on mentorship and in the follow-on questions, someone asked about her thoughts on Lean In. It was newly released and I felt I was the only woman in the room who had no idea what the book was about, I hadn’t even seen Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk. I was out of the loop and as soon as I got home, I bought the audio version.
Lean In motivated me to persevere through difficult times and exposed me to the concept of gender bias; before I would take things personally and feel incompetent. I would hit roadblocks and did not understand some of my challenges. After reading, I had compassion for myself and my coworkers. I took pride in being someone who breaks stereotypes in many ways and I doubled my efforts to become more diplomatic in my approach. I always thought it was “just me” and the book Lean In, and the Lean In community, gave me the confidence to approach my female coworkers and start the conversation. We validated many issues happen to all of us, and together we can understand and overcome differences and obstacles.
For women, we tend to struggle through and not share because we do not want to expose ourselves. Lean In got us looking around and saying “you too?!” Often in the military and law enforcement, men and women are simply expected to know what to do; therefore, many of us do not share our struggles. As women in these fields, we especially don't want to show what we feel is a weakness; therefore we silently trudge on. When we open up and share our concern with someone else, we can generate ideas for improvement - or at least share an empathetic sigh.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Emotions
There were many "Aha!" moments when reading the book, but my favorite was when she admitted to sometimes being overwhelmed with emotion at work. Yes…crying…and yes, I will cover this in a future post (collective guy cringe!). I was driving when I heard that part and almost teared up in relief. No, it is still not an appropriate expression in the workplace, but learning that I wasn’t the only one who sometimes got so frustrated that…well...it was reassuring to not be alone with the challenge.
Reading about the “Tiara Complex” was most humbling. Sheryl Sandberg gently chides those of us who thought if you keep working hard, someone will eventually recognize it. I must confess, I did that - I did not foster the relationships critical to progression. I can easily build bonds with peers and subordinates; however, when it came to reaching out for mentors and building relationships with my bosses or higher ups, I failed or was too intimidated to try. Now I’m actively looking and reaching out and creating bonds (or at least attempting) with the most incredible people. I found a phenomenal mentor, who happens to be a coach as well (score!), none of this would have been possible without his guidance, honest feedback, and most needed...his belief in me. He is not the only mentor though, I mention only him to emphasize the positive ripple effect one book can have on a life.
Someone has to Sustain the Economy...it Might as Well be Me
Gosh…I hope now I’m not overhyping, but if Costco sold Lean In in bulk...I'd buy it. I rarely read or listen to a book after the first time, I have listened to Lean In twice...so far (writing this makes me want to listen again). I bought the hard copy so I can highlight and take notes in the actual book...then I gave it away. Then I bought two, one for me and one as a gift...yup gifted those too. Last round, I purchased a few to give away. My hubby got a reprieve from my monetary exploits when I deployed; Amazon doesn't ship here, otherwise the pattern would continue and some of the amazing people I met here would have their own copy. I do go home soon though...heh heh heh.
Lean In is more than a book, it is a movement, a tribe striving towards gender equality; it’s an unstoppable force. This WILL happen, it is happening now. Thanks to a phenomenal community member and Lean In Circle leader, also in my military tribe, Lt Col Erika Cashin invited Sheryl Sandberg to attend an event at the MN base Officers Club (I would be SO awestruck!). In the following weeks Sheryl Sandberg publicly acknowledged military women in an interview by Business Insider Weekly. The discussion has officially entered our ranks, BRING IT! Oops, I mean LEAN IN!