Lean In - Vision & Reflections

I had seen the videos of TED and other talks by Sheryl Sandburg in past, and up to a great extent knew about the book and the subject. However, was never able to prioritise time to read it. So last week, I made it a point to finish reading the book and I have done it, in bits and pieces of times, that I could collect in between all the other things I typically do. And my immediate reflection after completing the book was, "Why have I not done it for so long?"

As picture describe more then words, the picture below would describe what the inner voice of most of the women today is (which is detailed in Lean In too) - that they do not want to see a page like this, which has a separate section called "Nari" (women), and a subsection for parenting dedicated to them, on a newspaper website. [Got this link accidentally, just before starting to write this blog]


It just limits the women. It says (though not explicitly), "Rest is for man, and a little candy for her, with subjects relevant to her." As Lean In talks about all these points in detail already, so no further detailing from my end, on it. 

But in a few lines, I would like to reflect my thoughts on each of the eleven chapters of the book.
  1. The Leadership Ambition Gap: What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid? - This chapter talks about the fears that we all have - internal as well as external. This chapter just emphasises the point that one has to overcome them - mute them - to move ahead and keep moving.
  2. Sit at the Table - This chapter talks about the confidence to be. Presence opens the first door.
  3. Success and Likability - Even in this movie called "Guru", their is a dialogue that if people start talking bad about someone, it means that he is progressing. Being women, its little more difficult. But, I guess we all have to fight this war - to BE, and also to create a place for others and the future generation. My thumb rule to fight this feeling is that I like myself, and go for success as per my terms - without causing harm to anyone - sooner or later others acknowledge it too.
  4. It's a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder - True. About 15 years ago, when I worked on this famous Gita project at IIT Kanpur, I was very new to web/internet etc. In the interview I was asked by Dr. Prabhakar about my knowledge in the area. My answer was that it all was new to me, but I have the ability to learn fast - and I got selected for my attitude. I have done good work. And then got this letter of recommendation from TVP.
    Since then, I have always tried doing new things based my my excitement or possibilities, and have always done good work. Then may it be my MS thesis at IIT Madras, or the first prize of my business plan at IIM Bangalore, or various other projects that I have successfully completed while working with various organisations, till researching and writing this book called "Life, Odds & Ends". I truly believe in this concept and also in the concept of having just one life to live :)
  5. Are You My Mentor? - The last line of this chapter is, "I knew exactly how that baby bird felt when he finally found his mother." - Nothing more than that describes the need of being validated, supported, feeling right and feeling women.
  6. Seek and Speak Your Truth - At IIT Madras when I went for the interview for Oracle, in the HR round, I was asked this question, "For how long you'd stay with us?" (considering that women leave the job, after they get married to move to be with their spouse). I replied to that question, "I have a boyfriend, and both of us would be fully focusing on careers for at least next few years before getting married. So even if I leave, it wouldn't be immediate." Needless to say, I was the first one to get job in my batch.
  7. Don't Leave Before You Leave - This is a very important point that women have to consciously fight. Taking precautions, or being prepared is great until it actually stops one from taking the final decisions. Many times after they commit, other things start falling around them.
  8. Make Your Partner a Real Partner - 1000% agreement. In India, we may count of hiring help for household, or parents and in-laws to support the family, while we focus on our careers. But none can predict or avoid the worst case situation from happening and that is when the real strength of the partnership comes out, and that is when one achieves the complete and balanced success - the truly self-made one.
  9. The Myth of Doing It All - I studied many lives while writing "Life, Odds & Ends", and realised that its very rare to have it all. But balance is important, along with the right prioritisation. 
  10. Let's Start Talking About It - I have heard many people say that there is no problem. This book has a very nice line for all those people, "What I didn't know at the time was that ignoring the issue is a classic survival technique." - I agree that there are issues, thought we find our own ways to workaround them, but a voice only creates a thought, and then a possible action. 
  11. Working Together Towards Equality - As described in the beginning of this blog, we have to work together to make if a different word, where we don't feel offended or supported seeing the mentioned newspapers pic. Here is my share of talking, defining thoughts on working towards equality.