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.>

Wasting Time: A Day in the Life Sunday

The past several weeks are in the bag. Looking back, I came upon a realization: I devoted less time to writing than I did to anything else. It's not new for me but now the stakes are higher.

Last week, I made a commitment to myself to energize a novice writing career. It's not going so well.

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These Words with Friends letters were taunting me in a game I was losing. No U for my Q, no triple word boxes in sight, I didn't make a killer word. I didn't win the game. I didn't unwind at the end of the day. I didn't write.

I was distracted. Again.

It's times like these when I pull out my dog-eared copy of a 2010 Chris Brogan post, Distractions are Yours to Manage. His three points: distractions are a part of life, you own this life and you set the limits are always right on for me.

Some days, I am better at managing distractions than others. Like Chris, nothing beeps for me except text messages from the kid. Tweets, Facebook notifications, emails are all silent. I am in Google Reader once a day, star items to read later and started Buffering as I move around the Web.

I even bought an iPad so I can use my time in the bleachers to write while the kid swims. Great intentions foiled by great apps.

From Chris, "When all is said and done, you own your own time. You own your own life. You own the distractions."

I get it. They are my distractions. I own them. Now, what the heck do I do with them?