Lean In and Live

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandburg

In Lean In, Sheryl examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

I found ‘Lean In’ an empowering book that made me analyse my career up until now and determine how I want to move forward. It has forced me to look at certain events in my career in a new light, which is both enlightening and incredibly disappointing. It has also made me analyse my own limiting beliefs and the pressure I put on myself, as both a woman and a human being – especially in the desire to ‘have it all’ and in striving for perfection. I mean, do I really want it all?

That is the question I have been asking myself, especially throughout the last year and a half. For instead of having it all and perfection, shouldn’t we be aiming for sustainable and fulfilling?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately since I have taken steps to reduce my working hours to part time. I mean, have I intentionally removed myself from the race? Am I leaning out rather than leaning in?

Instead of pondering the questions ‘Can we have it all’ we should be asking the more practical question ‘Can we do it all?’

And that is what I have been asking myself – seriously, can I really do it all?

It was midway through 2013 that I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t.

I could NOT give my all to everything. I mean, I had been but it had been to my own detriment. My mind and body was suffering, more than ever. Deep down, I couldn’t have it all. And seriously – did I really want it all? And really, what was ‘all’? And whose ‘all’ was it? 

On further analysis I was honest with myself. I did not want it all. I wanted specific things. I wanted happiness, good health, love, career satisfaction, family and friends. And yes, I wanted other things, but I didn’t need a kick-ass career in the corporate world where I climbed the ladder to become…

That got me thinking on how we are brought up to measure personal success. I mean, are we being realistic with ourselves? And with others?

I wasn’t. I was giving everything. Actually, I was giving more. So much more that it has been said to me I was doing the workload of 6 people. I mean, is this success? I was recognised, yes, and rewarded, of course. But to what detriment? Time and time again my body and mind has suffered immensely. What life is that?

Sandburg states that:

Long-term success at work often depends on not trying to meet every demand placed on us.  The best way to make room for both life and career is to make choices deliberately – to set them and stick to them.

And this is the mistake I have made, as have most of us. More often than not our lives play second fiddle to our careers, and when it comes down to choice – more times than not our career comes out on top.

Is it really worth it?

My answer is this:

No, it’s most certainly not.

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