The Monday morning after Sheryl Sandberg's 60 Minutes interview aired, I sat with a mug of black coffee in my dachshund-printed pajama set and running socks trimmed with dust bunnies and watched it. After the interview ended, I flipped off the DVR, changed my clothes and went to go work out -- fired up and ready to take on the world. Fired up in a way that felt like I was going to be "Scandal's" Olivia Pope, and do this and this and this, and work, work, work through sleep to lean in, lean in, lean in. I was super productive. I was super efficient. Oprah was going to give me a high five, grip my hand in that high five and tell me I'm great.
In addition to the work I kicked out, I grew more aware of how much valuable time I waste and the breadth and depth I'm able to accomplish when I make the choice to lock it down and stop futzing around. (And, ironically enough, that meant spending less time trolling around Facebook.) I also realized how often I downplay -- to myself and to others -- all that of which I'm capable. I'm harder on myself than anyone else could ever be on me.
All of this kicking-it-up-a-notch felt like a giant, high-heeled step up towards the specific life I crave for myself and the precise pace in which I will get done all that I need and want to get done.
Then, my mom told me I had to watch another interview -- former Lehman Brothers CFO Erin Callan's interview broadcast on "Rock Center with Brian Williams." I watched it, completely mesmerized by the calm, collected and wise Erin Callan. I should have been researching economic development in Belize for a business school project, but, instead, I was girl-crush-Google-searching Erin Callan. I found her March 10, 2013 New York Times op-ed, and I e-mailed it to family and friends. Both her op-ed and her interview with Ann Curry addressed things I talk about a lot and think about all the time -- leaning back into family, finding relationships, treasuring balance, taking a stand for the life outside of work that's worth paying attention in the midst of a career climb.
Now versus 50, 30 or 20 years ago, is a very different era to be a woman. There's overwhelming support, networks, websites and stories that tell stories of women who've done it all and what they want you -- another woman -- to know about business and life. You're almost overwhelmed with resources, perspectives and trusted advice grounded firmly in real experience.
And, with that said, I got really confused. I got really confused because I didn't know what to do in this critical place -- almost 30, graduating from business school in August, feeling really good about who I am and what I want. Do I lean in or do I lean back? Do I go at this -- 'this' being my future, my career -- gangbuster-no-holes-barred style, or relaxed and balanced? I flipped on a self-imposed, timed heat lamp and felt pressure to pick one of the two paths -- almost like picking a route charted in a tattered copy of a Choose Your Own Adventure book from fifth grade. I don't know what to do. I don't know who to be. I don't know what type of woman to be.
The confusion got more confusing when I started factoring in people and things that aren't even a part of my life right now -- husband, kids, house, career in ten years, etc., etc., etc. Then, it occurred to me: All my confusion had nothing to do with me. It was about other people. It was about what I thought other people would want me to do. And I realized I was missing Sandberg's and Callan's respective points completely.
Would I be pissed if I looked myself in the mirror ten years from now and knew I was disappointed I didn't do _______ or _________? Or at least tried? YES. I would be pissed. Not Sheryl Sandberg. Not Erin Callan. ME.
Then, I realized that all this is about personal power. Knowing what you need. Knowing what you want. And trusting that everything will fall into place from there. The work now is finding that 'there.' It's, like, the step before the lean, if that makes sense. It's not really about your job. It's not really about your career. It's not really about what you do on the weekends to stay balanced. It's about knowing your power. It's about knowing what you need to do and then doing it. There's something out there to accomplish. I think you know what it is. And you've got a responsibility to yourself right here and right now to do it. Stop futzing around.
I was looking to Sandberg and Callan for an answer. And it was there. It just looked different. I needed to dig a wee bit deeper. Because I think what both Sandberg and Callan are advocating is that you, whoever you are and wherever you are in your career or life, possess more power than you realize. It's your life, your future, your lean.
There's a lot of talk out there these days about girls and women and what each does and achieves -- whether it has to do with sports, college, graduation rates, employment figures, earning power. Well, newsflash: This isn't a newsflash. People have always talked about what women are doing. (Insert here: Joan of Arc, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony and team to name a few.)
Here's the deal though, we never -- or I'll say rarely -- talk about women who just sit around. We talk about women who are up to something - women who know what they want, know what they're capable of, and go for it. Whatever 'it' is.
Women are a big deal. The only people we need to convince of that is ourselves.
You've got more power than you realize. Find it. Use it.