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May 7, 2013 / Molly Moseley

Take action in your career: The inspiring new book “Lean In”

In my free time I try to read a lot of career development books, and recently I finished “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook. I found this book particularly inspiring and recommend it to both women and men.

The book focuses on how women typically take a back seat throughout their careers. When women are passive about career choices and actions, they miss out on important opportunities. Is this the reason the majority of top executive positions are held by men? Sandberg seems to think so.index

Our society tends to teach girls to sit back, even when they are young. Boys are labeled leaders that take initiative when they organize games with friends or take control of group activities. Girls, however, are too often labeled bossy under the same circumstances.

Answer this: If a new job position became available at work that you weren’t 100 percent qualified for, would you still apply? Men typically would, thinking they add value to the position and anything they don’t know they could learn. Women, on the other hand, often will not apply, citing their inexperience as a reason for withdrawing from the opportunity.

I agree that it’s time both women and men step up and lean in.

I am myself often guilty of sitting back and downplaying my accomplishments rather than owning them. For example, I was able to negotiate a pretty big business deal for our company. When complimented on the deal, it was too easy to make excuses for my achievements – it was the end of the quarter, they liked me, I had help researching, etc. Instead, I should simply say, “Thank you. I’m really proud of it, too!”

I find myself talking about this book a lot and it has inspired me to change some of the ways I act or do things both professionally and personally. To other women, or even men who have taken a back seat when opportunities have risen, it’s time to raise your hand to ask questions, be proud of your accomplishments, and take a risk and apply for that promotion. It’s also time to raise your children to do the same – a confident, independent thinking child is positioned for success throughout his or her life, and what parent doesn’t want that for their kid?