Sunday, January 5, 2014

I'm reading "Lean In"

I picked up Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" from the library before leaving on our humungo "Circle the US visiting Grandparents" tour this holiday season. I wanted to know what all the fuss is about. I didn't really think it applied to me, since I have NO INTEREST in running a Fortune 500 company. I don't even want to be the department chair.

I was wrong. There are a lot of useful things in the book for me (and you perhaps). I would like to expand on these in upcoming posts.
Here's a preview:
  • What would you do if you weren't afraid? Close the Leadership ambition gap.  
    • Yes, perhaps the reason I don't want be the Chair, or Dean, or Provost is because I feel underqualified and too disorganized. If I am treading water now with my family life, how much worse would it be? She addresses this common feeling among women  
  •  Make your partner a real partner.
    • This is an especially hairy situation in a commuter marriage. Hub is motivated and tries his hardest, but how does one do half the work when he is in another city for most of the week? We are working on it.
  • Sit at the Table
    • Since I got tenure, and am not currently vying for another position, I have relaxed into full humility and deference mode. Seems opposite of expected? It has to do with regional and institutional culture. And security. If I don't have to claw my way up, compete, and make sure I get noticed, I can be as sweet as sugar. Perhaps this isn't serving me well.
    • Fight the imposter syndrome. Yes, I have it and it is currently raging on my sabbatical as I am learning a lot of difficult new things. While Sandberg discusses her struggle against it, she has a lot of empirical evidence (two degrees from Harvard, Phi Beta Kappa) to argue against her imposter syndrome. I haven't published adequately, I have empirical evidence FOR it. Nonetheless, I must "fake it until I feel it", as she suggests.    
  • Myth of doing it all
    • Sandberg cites the relatively large Early Childhood Research Network to argue that there is no difference in several measures of development between children who were cared for exclusively by their mothers and those who were also cared for by others. Huge sigh of relief from here. My kids beg me to stay home when I leave for work, and I say I choose to go to work so I can help other people, too, and that I enjoy my work. Good to be reminded that I am not ruining their lives.

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