As a wife, mother, entrepreneur and mentor of other young women, this is a dialogue that interests me. In Sandburg’s TED talk she emphasizes three simple yet key messages that all women should keep in mind:
1.Sit at the table.
Research tells us that women systematically underestimate their own abilities. As a result they often sit at the side of the room rather than at the table. Women are less likely to negotiate and more likely to be concerned with how they are viewed by their colleagues. However, it’s important to remember that in order to get the promotion, or the next big contract, you must have the confidence needed to be comfortable to sit at the same table as everyone else.
2. Make your partner a real partner.
This goes for both men and women. It’s important that the parenting and household responsibilities are done in partnership. Each partnership may look different based on the needs of the couple.
3. Don’t leave before you leave.
Women often slow themselves down even before they need to. They step on the brake when they start thinking about how they are going to manage a family and children. Sandberg encourages woman not to step on the brake unless it is what they truly want. She outlines that often when woman step on the brake in anticipation of their future, they often become bored with their jobs, feel less fulfilled, and have a more difficult time getting back in the game when they decide they are ready.
After listening to Sandberg’s TED talk, I was encouraged to read her book, ‘Lean In.’ Although there are many key points to Lean In that I would love to share, my favourite chapter is one entitled: It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder.
She shares that the common metaphor of looking at careers like ladders no longer applies in today’s society. She borrows “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder” from Patti Sellers and encourages her readers to spend some time thinking about this statement.
If we visualize a ladder we can clearly see that a ladder has only one way to get to the top and one way to get down. An individual’s career path no longer looks like this. Many individuals change jobs many times in their life and do not necessarily start in one field and make their way up the ladder in that same field. She challenges her readers to look at their career as a jungle gym. There are multiple ways to make it to the top. Jungle gyms allow for creative exploration, unique paths, detours and occasional dips, but in the end, there are many paths that can be taken in order to reach the top. We know that climbing a jungle gym is not easier than climbing a ladder, but we also know that when we take the time to chart our way on our personal jungle gyms we have a better chance for fulfillment. This is an important point not to lose sight of, as each one of us will have to choose the paths that work for us and our families.
Sandberg’s book encourages us to pursue our ambitions and make them part of an open conversation that helps to encourage all woman. Sandberg has founded an organization called LeanIn.org. This organization focuses on providing women with community, education and circles to help each individual reach her personal and professional ambitions. I encourage you to check it out!