Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In sparked a US-centric debate regarding women in the workforce. I say "US-Centric" because I am unclear as to whether the same professional and cultural perceptions apply in Europe or Asia. However, now the media uses Leaning In as a way to highlight how women Lean Out.
That discussion is much less helpful.
Leaning Out implies women are somehow doing less, being less or shying away from their potential. When men Lean Out, they are heroes - focused on their families and being good fathers. When women Lean Out, the are limiting their careers.
Forget Lean In or Lean Out. Just focus on YOU. Develop your own career action plan and career priorities based on your needs. Not someone else's perceptions of what you should be doing.
The Daily Beast published an article written by journalist Mary Louise Kelly. As NPR's Pentagon correspondent, Ms. Kelly was covering the US Secretary of Defense visit to Baghdad when she received a call that her son was sick. However, at the moment she received the call, she was in a helicopter, wearing full body armour, traveling by convoy. Not exactly easy to leave to pick up her son.
Her son was not only sick, he was having trouble breathing. The school nurse thought he needed to go to the hospital immediately. And, as Ms. Kelly heard all this awful news, the phone line was disconnected. It was hours before she could talk again.
As she said - she hit a wall. And decided it was time for Plan B.
7 months later, she resigned from her position to become a full time spy writer. She still had a full time career - just one that fit her needs better. Ms. Kelly explains: So many of the women I know are blending work and family in ways our mothers and grandmothers never dreamed possible. This seems to me worth celebrating, not sniffing at. Dare I confess that I feel I’m accomplishing something just as meaningful now as when I spent my time scurrying between Pentagon press briefings?
In a bittersweet moment, the New York Times ran her op-ed piece on her career change. But the Times used the headline "Leaning Out".
She was working full time. Kelly did not think she was leaning out. Just changing careers.
Whether male or female, old or young, beginning a new career or riding the wave of a successful career, make your career YOUR own career. Forget Leaning In OR Leaning Out.Just LEAN.
1. Develop a career action plan - When I partner with individuals, we develop a prioritized career action plan. The action plan is based on both professional and personal objectives. The plan involves discussion, assessments, reviews, evaluations and tools that can be used going forward. It is a FLUID document because your goals and objectives will change throughout your life time.
2. Re-evaluate often - Allow yourself the luxury of re-evaluating your career every 2 - 3 years. Your professional and personal objectives and circumstances will change. Ensure your career changes with these circumstances. If you do reevaluate, you will be more likely to achieve career happiness and a work-life balance that you can actually achieve.We need to stop judging people by our own standards. Male or female.
And check out her latest spy novel: Anonymous Sources