Having heard about “Lean In” three years ago, I thought it would be a boring book about feminism, inequality in our society and a criticism on how men dominate every industry. However, after watching Sheryl’s appealing TED Talk, I decided to give it a chance. It turns out to be a superb book which every woman, whether you choose to be a housewife or a full-time employee, should read and learn many valuable lessons from.
This book is an extension of Sheryl’s TED Talk. In that talk, she only provided women with three tips: ‘Don’t sit at the table’, ‘Don’t leave before you leave’ and ‘Make your partner a real partner’. In ‘Lean In’, you will find seven more stunning views. At the beginning, Sheryl states apparently about the purpose of this book is to assist women in tearing down by ourselves all external barriers which cause difficulties in our career path. I appreciate the way she expresses her emotions and opinions genuinely and authentically. When you read this book, you will feel like talking to a normal woman, not a COO of a large corporation. Though the first three chapters are a little bit rambling, I find the last eight chapters extremely intriguing.
Chapter 4 ‘It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder’ is my favorite one. Sheryl asserts her insightful view on one’s career progression:
Ladders are limiting – people can move up or down, on or off. Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There’s only one way to get to the top of a ladder, but there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym. The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, getting blocked by external barriers, or reentering the workforce after taking time off. (..) Plus, a jungle gym provides great views for many people, not just those at the top. On a ladder, most climbers are stuck at staring at the butt of the person above.
This will be an appropriate answer to a frequently-asked question at every job interview: ‘How you see yourself in the next five years?’. The future is vague and unforeseeable for fresh graduates, and none of us will be sure that, for example, when you apply for Marketing Assistant position today, you will become Marketing Leader for the next three years and then Marketing Manager for the next 5 years. Though drawing a blueprint of your career is beneficial, a fixed plan will block all your potentials you may gain in our career path. Especially in Industrial Revolution 4.0 nowadays, automation will take place in many processes of your works. A job which is trendy at the moment may not exist in the future. Your skill sets must be developed continuously to be fit with changes in the industry.
By reading Lean In, you will have a chance to reassess your career development process: Have you ever negotiated a pay rise you deserve? Is it the right time for you to have a career mentor? Are you afraid of speaking up when you are in a meeting with male colleagues? Have you ever turned down an opportunity, for example, a promotion or master scholarship, because someone tells you that girls should focus on finding a husband and getting married instead of pursuing your career? At the same time, this book also reveals many other practical tips on how you choose your life partner and how you can make your partner support you in your career.
Concise, genuine and thought-provoking, this book provides an eye-opening perspective towards the intersection between female career objectives, ambitions, dreams and our happiness, marriage and personal fulfillment, shows us how taking risks and freeing ourselves from society’s unattainable standards can have life-changing effects on our career progression as well as relationships with others.