Guest Post by: Elizabeth Krunnfusz, Child of the Universe
After giving birth Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, went to great lengths to mask the upheaval of routine that comes with a life-altering event. Attempting to “hide” her new schedule from co-workers, Sandberg credits Camille, her executive assistant, for setting meetings up at other offices as so to “make it less transparent when I was actually arriving or departing.” All of this was done in an effort to mask a rearrangement of priorities, to protect the soft underbelly of professional pride from the possibility of colleagues’ disappointed expectations.
It is unfair that natural events of life, those that make up so much of the human experience, are seen as a weakness when they interfere with work. They are called things like “maternity leave” instead of just being called by their proper name…life. Work and life should not be mutually exclusive events. They thrive off each other and simultaneously build culture so, really, it in our best interest that they dance with each other. It is in our best interest that we, as a society, allow them to be partners, feeding off of each other. It is in our best interest to not allow work and life to remain as feuding lovers, standing at opposite ends of a room, each demanding the other to give them more attention.
Even though as a society at large we still have quite the journey to go in balancing both work and life, we can give a generous nod to stories Sandberg shares and take to heart in the lessons within the pages of Lean In.
Sandberg openly admits to craving order saying, “I am not someone who embraces uncertainty” yet, she goes on to explain that in her professional career, instead of clinging, she took the chance to shed her comfort cloak and reaped the rewards of embracing the unknown. Personally, I too am not known as one to wholeheartedly embrace uncertainty and have frequently wondered how the implications of such a disposition might translate into my professional career. Though, as time moves on and I continue becoming more equipped to embrace the inevitability of life’s uncertainty – Sandburg’s sentiments and words are ones that will be added to my arsenal.
I see Sandberg’s words not as an ultimatum but as a graceful nudge. The mantra “lean in” is not a condemnation or ungrateful reflection on the hardworking hours of working women all over the world but a gentle nudge for every woman, no matter her station or success, to be her own greatest advocate, to believe in herself and participate all that much more. I see “lean in” also as a plea for engagement. A hope that each person will understand the worth of his or her story and share. A hope that everyone will bring their experiences and welcome each other as they all, as Sandburg says, “sit at the table.”