To Lean or Not to Lean?

pisa 2To lean or not to lean…that is the question!

Sheryl Sandberg’s book has generated a multitude of responses — some positive, some mixed and some outright hostile. The most common complaint theme seems to center on the onus that Sandberg puts the burden on women to change, rather than challenging extra factors that present to most women.

But another common refrain is that Sandberg fails to represent all women. As one of the richest and most powerful women in America, she has quite a few resources that most women lack — whether it’s financial, household/childcare help, or another parent who can provide support. Not everyone has those advantages.

But, my question is, does every woman want to conquer the world? Right every wrong? Score the corner office? And do we have to feel guilty if we don’t?  As a mom, I really enjoy the fact that I can work in an enviroment where I provide value, network with other smart people, and contribute to the household budget. I also truly treasure the flexiblity that my job allows to attend afternoon sporting events, drive carpool, and spend precious moments with my kids. I have two teenagers and they will only be under my roof a few more years. I don’t want to feel guilty that I don’t strive to be CEO or Chairman.

In Monique Ruffin’s blog post this week, Moms Change the World, she said this: “Every mother I’ve spoken with has related that she wanted work that added meaning and purpose to her life. Most women have been transformed by the experience of becoming parents — having a child has led them to see their connection with the world differently, and has instilled in them a determination to make it better, however they may. No longer are they simply seeking a paycheck, a title or an office with a view. These women are determined to create purpose through their work, by any means necessary.”

Well said! What are your thoughts?


  1. becky on April 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Natalie, havent read the book but agree with your thoughts. I don’t believe men or women are just seeking success. We are seeking significance. For most women that comes from our relationships first. I don’t know many women who are willing to pay a price at the expense of their family.

    • Mickey on April 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Becky — I agree; we all are striving for significance. Most of us can’t ignore the paycheck side of things, but significance is what we really crave.

      Like Natalie, I’m also thankful for my flexibility and the ability to do things that a lot of working parents simple can’t do (pick up my kids from school, coach their soccer teams, etc). Balancing that with the desire to “go further” is a tough area to keep in check.

  2. courtney abrams on April 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    i haven’t read the book yet but i really liked what you have to say. i’ve never felt the need to conquer the world as a women but i do love owning and running my own business. i feel like i am a great role model to my kids. but it’s a fine line. i have friends who feel like they never see their kids because they are on a partner track or striving for something “more.” i love the talk about women doing more, being more, wanting more. but i also love that it does bring up issues of being powerful in your own right, even without a corner office and a million dollar salary

  3. Gerald on April 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I haven’t read the Sandberg book, but I’ve heard her interviewed and seen some of the reviews that raise similar questions as you do. Maybe there’s a book in there for you, Natalie, by starting with your, “But my question is . . . ?” While you may not have Sheryl’s name recognition, my guess is the number of readers who would “lean in” your way might very well surpass those of Ms. Sandberg. Ready for the book tour?

    • natalie on April 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Booking the tour now…but only in my flexible time 🙂

  4. Tim Villegas on April 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    I agree with the other commenters… I don’t think it matters if you are a man or women… We all strive for meaning and purpose. Not just a paycheck.

  5. Mandie on April 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    haven’t read this book either, but I must agree with the other comments (her and in her reviews). We all have a calling in life and sometimes that calling is to be a great mom or wife. I think she tends to place a weighted value on titles and cooperate conquerors. I guess I’d rather be known to someone that known for something if that makes sense..

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