One of the practices that I’ve committed to consistently implementing this year is to read, study and internalize at least 1 incredible book each month. I love to learn and I love my ever-growing book collection. And this year I’m not only going to manage my backlog of reading but every month I’m also going to share with you the best lessons I’ve learnt from my favorite book of the month. And I’m off to a great start! I just began reading my fourth book of the year and it’s only January 18th.
My pick for January is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl is the COO of Facebook and is also ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and one of the Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. So no surprise that she had some incredible wisdom to share.
Although her book deals with the issue of gender inequality in the workplace (especially in regard to leadership positions) and the issues surrounding the lives and choices of working women, I found that the advice she shared could just as well be applied to any women wanting to achieve and live their best, happiest and most fulfilling life.
Here are 9 strategies I personally took away in this regard:
- If you have a dream, pursue with all your heart! Sheryl talks about the ‘leadership ambition gap’ and explains in part, that due to gender stereotypes, women are not expected to be as ambitious as men and as a result many aren’t. They live up to that stereotype. DON’T! Don’t pay attention to those who say you can’t or you shouldn’t or you won’t succeed. Prove them wrong. Whatever your ambition is, if it lights a fire within you, you will find a way to achieve it. Ignore those that tell you otherwise and follow our passion. You will never regret it.
- Speak up! Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion out of fear that you will be judged or disliked. Chances are that may happen anyhow. Respectfully and considerately speak up for what you believe! What you have to say matters and may be the very thing the world needs to hear. The world needs more bold leaders. Be one!
- Be all in! Sheryl uses a great analogy in her book when she says that women need to “sit at the table”. We cannot hold back, stand back and hang out in the shadows. You need to take your seat at the table of life, get in where the action is, be involved in your world and life and refuse to be a silent observer on the sidelines. Be all in and don’t back off in anticipation of future events. Put your foot on the pedal and don’t hit the breaks until you have to.
- Believe in your abilities! Don’t play small and don’t underestimate yourself or your performance in any way. According to research, Sheryl says that women tend to not only underestimate their own abilities more than men, but they also judge their own qualifications and performance as worse than they actually are while men do the opposite. Don’t fall into this trap and don’t shy away from being your most confident self. Own that your success is due to innate skills and ability and not luck or circumstance.
- Seize the moment! Opportunity for most of us will not come knocking at our door. We need to go out and create it. So be proactive, seize opportunities when they do come by and don’t ever think there will be a better time. The best time in when you have the opportunity – not when every aspect of your life is lined up to perfection – that we know will likely never happen.
- Be open to all possibilities! There are always multiple ways to get where you want to go so remain open to all possibilities. The analogy Sheryl uses is getting to the top (whatever that may be for you) using a ladder versus a jungle gym – both will get you there, the latter just provides way more flexibility, options and potential for growth.
- Be an ally! Bottom line, as women we need to support each other in every way we can.It’s as simple as that so let’s do it.
- Do it your way! The reality of life is that whether we care to admit it or not, we cannot do it all alone – at least not without burning ourselves out or paying a price in some way or another! So if we don’t want this to happen then we need to set boundaries, be ok with saying no, do things on our terms that are in alignment with our priorities, values and needs and prioritize and focus on what’s important to us at any given time. We need to avoid the trap of aiming for perfection and rather create solutions that are sustainable for the long run, sane and fulfilling. We need to find what works for us in each moment!
- Find a mentor! The most successful people in this world all have coaches and mentors. It may be someone who has more experience, who has successfully achieved what you are seeking to do or it may be a peer who understands and can relate to where you are. Whatever their position, we all need that person in our life who can guide and advise us, support and encourage us. I know for sure that I would not be where I am today without the support of the incredible coaches and mentors I have in my camp. So seek this out for yourself – it will make all the difference.
I’d love to hear which of these strategies most resonate with you and which you feel you most need to adopt right now. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s start building that community of amazing women now!
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,