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.



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.>

The Geometry of A Post

Earlier this week I wrote about trust and HR. I started to search for a post from the archives on trust to share with you today but I saw this and decided to share it with you instead.  



Writing can be a real chore. Or, it can be fun.

I read somewhere that writing is fun once you get good at it and being good at it makes your communication skills, your creativity and your powers of reason that much stronger. Blah, blah. 

Well, "good" is relative and you don't have to be good to have fun, you just have to want it. Need a refresh? You can try something new or take a look at  something old from a new perspective. Now, let's have a little fun.  

The Idea

When I can't put two thoughts together, one thing that keeps me writing are the times I've sat down to write with nothing more than my good intentions, a blank sheet of paper and a wisp of an idea only to watch a post develop right in front of my eyes.

Is it ground breaking, is it breathtaking, does it repeat or rhyme?  Does it linger, does it blast, does it spin on a dime? Does it question, does it challenge, does it inquire or suppose? Does it push people away or does it bring them in close? Don't judge, don't measure and don't you fret. Don't format, don't structure, at least just not yet. Capture, observe and don't try to hide, your creativity is showing, go along for the ride.

I write for times like this when I can't write fast enough to capture the flow of ideas.

The Shape

My wisps of ideas come from things I've read, conversations I've had with others, in response to specific requests, insights or questions, or out of the blue on my drive to work. After capturing the idea, I begin to frame it up. I picture it, sketch it and begin to look for its shape.

Does it start from point A and circle around back to there? Or does it have four equal sides, just like a square? Does it start from point A and move in a straight line? Does it blow past Point B, is the idea still mine? Are my ideas parallel, never to meet? Hmmm, what if they intersect, what could that mean? For a rant or a rave to get off my chest, the exclamation point is up to the test. It may build upon a foundation to prove a point but do I need it less triangular to shake up this joint? 

You'll probably never need to diagram a post for your English teacher, but pondering the geometry of a post could be fun. 

The Why

Writing can lead your reader step-by-step from the premises of a proof to the conclusion . . . or it can take them (and you) away to a place they've never been before or even one they didn't know existed.

Writing can be many different things but there is only one thing that writing really is. Writing is an exercise in trust. Writing requires you to trust that, if you write, the ideas will come. Writing requires trust in yourself as a writer and trust your words. No matter what shape they are in.