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Have you heard about Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, Lean In? In her book, the Facebook COO explores why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles in the workplace has fallen off. Drawing on her own experience and compelling research, she gives advice on how women can overcome their obstacles to lead more fulfilling careers.

I recently finished the book and it’s had a great impact on how I am setting personal goals for my career. As a college-age woman beginning the job search, I found the book incredibly relevant and predictive of challenges I may face in the future. However, I would recommend it to anyone- guys and girls alike. Without giving too much away (because you should read it yourself!), I’d like to share the biggest lessons I came away with.

1. “It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder”
Sandberg explains that the days of staying at one company for the entirety of your career are over. By comparing your career to a ladder with many levels, you may miss out on unique opportunities. Do not be afraid to explore other options instead of waiting year in and year out for a promotion at your company. To aid in this exploration, Sandberg recommends adopting two, simultaneous goals: a long-term dream and an eighteen-month plan. By adopting this method, you are sure to avoid complacency and continue to “climb the jungle gym.”

2. “The Myth of Doing It All”
Sandberg disproves the myth of “having it all” and urges women to ask themselves “can I do it all?” instead. In short, this section talks about priorities and the choices women feel they must make between work and a family. Women want to appear just as dedicated to their jobs as their male coworkers and are less likely to take advantage of flexible work arrangements to tend to a family, have a child, etc. because of how they may be perceived by employers. Sandberg points out that this issue needs to be addressed and that she has struggled with balancing her own work and family. Although she cannot offer any immediate solution, she leaves readers with, “If I had to embrace a definition of success, it would be that success is making the best choices we can…and accepting them.”

3. Learn to “Sit at the Table”
This was my favorite part of the book. Sandberg draws from research to prove that women often underestimate themselves and judge their performance as worse than it is. She shares that using a “fake it till you make it” approach has proved helpful to her in situations when she lacked confidence. Forbes named Sandberg fifth most powerful woman in the world in 2011. She felt insecure about the title and thought she wasn’t worthy of her high ranking. When coworkers congratulated her on the ranking, she had to learn to respond with a simple “thank you,” instead of saying the list was ridiculous and she wasn’t worthy.

Sandberg’s most compelling question, and the driving force behind the movement emerging because of her book is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I could write all day about the lessons Sandberg shares in her book, but instead I’ll urge you to go pick up a copy. You can even visit leanin.org to get the skinny on how other women are learning to lean in and seek out leadership roles in the workplace. Have you already read the book? I’d love to hear what you took away from Lean In so be sure to leave a comment!

Until Next Time,