Lean In, Reach Out and Be Nice

There is value in the experiences of others. If we limit our quest for ideas and support to people similarly situated to ourselves, we are limiting our own growth and development.

iStockphoto

iStockphoto

In this business book bestseller list, how many of the authors are in the same career, family situation or financial state as you? Not seeing any human resource directors happily married with one tween daughter in a tax bracket that doesn't support their wants, I'd have to say, "None."     

I'll read them anyway. 

I don't discount an author's ideas simply because she has more financial resources than I do. If she lacks credibility or a proven track record, yes. If he is a jerk or writing about something I have no interest in, yes. But if my interest is piqued, a cover is cracked.

With this in mind, I wondered about the hoopla over Lean In and Sheryl Sandberg's financial situation. Were her experiences and ideas are so far out of reach to the rest of us? Was it because she's a successful woman and we can't have any of that? Curious, and in preparation for an upcoming presentation, I cracked this cover and read the book this weekend.

As different as our lives are, I found similarities in her experiences and mine, e.g. being the only woman in a workgroup of men, underestimating my competence and being on the receiving end of unevenly applied practices. 

Was Lean In worth the hoopla, the hype and the polarizing opinion pieces? I garnered a few ideas, references and resources but it wasn't game changing for me. But that's not the point; being open to new ideas is.

Chris Brogan is encouraging readers to learn how to build their network out to other geographies, other pursuits, and other passions. Why? Because it always pays off. There’s never a reason not to know people outside of your specific cloister. There are many reasons why it’s vital. Make an extra effort to stay connected to the unique and varied people of this universe.

I am going to make a conscious effort to expand my network and to not discount the rest.  Will you?

And while we are at it, American women, let's stop engaging in "intense, public hand-wringing dialogues" with ourselves. People like Gene Weingarten and the Washington Post  are noticing. <Hat tip to Heather Bussing and Mary Ellen Slayter for the link.>