Sheryl Sandberg is a force to be reckoned with. There is no doubt about it. She’s a take-charge woman who is inspiring legions of corporate women to take what is rightfully theirs.
As a young woman, I would have been a flag-waving, card-carrying fan of Ms. Sandberg’s. She may talk about women who don’t sit at the center table in meetings, but dammit I was sitting front and center at executive meetings. I never made excuses for my age, gender or for looking ridiculously young on top of it all. I took what I thought was rightfully mine, and I did it well with no apologies. I was the poster child for women who were “leaning in.”
And then I leaned out.
I pushed my chair away from the table. I handed in my corporate cards and stuffy suits. I gave away my 2-inch business heels that had walked the hallways with confidence. I was done.
Even though I excelled at my job and was on my way to taking over the public relations world, it wasn’t what I wanted out of life. In fact, because I spent so much time dedicated to my job I didn’t have a life. I also realized although I was really good at my job didn’t mean that was who I ultimately wanted to be.
While I applaud Ms. Sandberg’s dedication to inspiring the corporate female into taking the office by storm, where does it leave we women who opt not to live that life? Leaning in shouldn’t be just about being a corporate success but rather successful at whatever you choose.
Leaning in should be about leaning in towards one’s family if you prefer. It should be about leaning in toward your community. Or leaning in toward your blog, your personal business, your travel wishes. Leaning in should be about taking the bull by the horns in whatever you wish to accomplish. The world has too much variety in life to say only by leaning in at the corporate table can a women truly be a success.
Ms. Sandberg, it is time for you to take a step back from the corporate table and recognize there are many ways to define oneself as a woman and a success. By excluding the vast majority of your female community, you are alienating those who would benefit from understanding that being female doesn’t preclude us from doing what we want and going after it.