I wanted to wait for the dust to settle a bit to read Sheryl Sandberg's book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." After all, she took a lot of criticism in the media for asking women to seek challenges, take risks and pursue their goals.
And for her, it may be easier than for some. Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and was a former executive at Yahoo. She's ranked on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and was one of Time magazine's Most Influential People in the World. She's smart, she's sassy, and yes, she is wealthy - and the privileges that come with wealth are why most critics had a lot of negative comments.
I get that. She came from an above-average-wealth family - her father was a doctor - and she went to Harvard, so obviously she has some advantages that most of us do not. But don't let that cloud her message. She wants more women to be leaders. She wants women to "sit at the table." And she wants women to stop holding themselves back, whether they realize they are or not.
"Lean In" offers some logical conclusions about why women often do not seek their full potential. She combines personal anecdotes with the hard facts - there's plenty of research to back up her claims in support of working women. She's made a lot of mistakes along the way and she owns up to those mistakes, which is admirable.
But she also had great mentors and supporters along the way - including her husband and former co-workers - something that many women do not have. And I think that's where the book rubs some women the wrong way.
But let's stop having this "we can have it all" mentality and constant bickering among ourselves. Women pit themselves against each other whether they realize it or not - working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding. And the list goes on.
The book is inspiring because it is encouraging a conversation that needs to occur to help young women reach their potential for growth personally and professionally.
I especially liked how she asked men to be true partners and share in the family work and child-rearing. She also makes a good point about how women need to ask for changes - for example, when she was very pregnant and struggling with morning sickness, she wanted a closer parking space when she was at Yahoo.
She asked, it was granted and the spaces still remain years after she left the company. She was talking about a small, fundamental institutional change in how the company viewed employees. Yes, it was small, but it was impactful for other women at Yahoo.
But perhaps the best message it proposes to women, is to take charge and stop waiting for someone to notice a problem and then "fix" it. It's not going to happen. Women need to act when the opportunity presents itself and take control.
And one message she gave throughout the book was an inspiration poster from the Facebook walls: "Done is better than perfect."
I think that's a great message to take away from this book.
Sometimes, it's just about coming up with ideas - believing in them and acting on them before it's too late - than making sure it's perfect. Nothing is perfect; we are human after all.
So grab a seat at the table and start an imperfect conversation about why women should lean in. If you need ideas on how to start the conversation, check out Sandberg's website, leanin.org, which offers tips on how to start a circle.
On another note, the weekend I finished reading this book, I also read an article in the January 2014 issue of Parenting magazine, which encourages parents to "lean back" and stop hovering over our children. It says to stop running ourselves ragged from parenting them, which is also a good message to stop trying to think we need to "have it all and do it all."
I think my New Year's resolution will be to lean in and lean back, which counts as exercise, right?