Lean In – Chapter 9

Chapter 9: The Myth of Doing It All

Does it appear that everyone else has their lives together and you are the one running around trying to pick up the pieces? Do you run out of time to get all of the things done on your list? Do you wonder how super mom manages her job, her kids, and her life so perfectly? Sometimes my life feels this way and this dilemma is what Sheryl Sandberg discusses in Chapter 9 of Lean In.

No one has it all. But it’s easy to think that everyone else does, especially when we get most of our information about someone’s life from their Instagram or other social media posts. Learn to make the most of what you have and maximize your time for the most benefits and what makes you happy. Sandberg included this quote by Sharon Poczter, Professor of Economics at Cornell, in Chapter 9:

“The antiquated rhetoric of ‘having it all’ disregards the basis of every economic relationship: the idea of trade-offs. All of us are dealing with the constrained optimization that is life, attempting to maximize our utility based on parameters like career, kids, relationships, etc., doing our best to allocate the resource of our time. Due to the scarcity of this resource, therefore, none of us can ‘have it all,’ and those who claim to are most likely lying.”

Do what makes you happy. Make time for things that you want to do. I used to give up on working out when I was busy with work or school. Now I always make running or working out a priority by trading it off with other things. Does the house always have to be clean? Do I need to respond to this email right now?

The most valuable lesson I learned about doing it all and deciding what mattered happened in graduate school. (Any of my CSAA professors should stop reading right now). At the beginning of my graduate program I insisted on reading every assigned article and chapter very carefully while taking notes. This often caused me to say no to spending time with friends and miss out on opportunities for connections and networking. Throughout the 2 years I learned to discern what was important and what was not. I learned to skim some of those chapters, and I learned above all, as the quote below explains, what mattered and what did not. I was not a “perfect” student that read every single word of every assignment, and I still have a master’s degree!

Every day we make choices about the amount of time we are going to spend perfecting something and where our priorities lie. Dr. Glimcher (quote below) stated for her this meant getting home at a reasonable hour but not spending that time at home making sure the house was clean.

I had to decide what mattered and what didn’t and I learned to be a perfectionist only in the things that mattered

What should your priorities be today? Are you wasting time perfecting something that does not need to be perfect? As Facebook’s wall so proudly displays: Done is better than perfect.


This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In – Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Make Your Partner A Real Partner

There is a long list of quotes I saved from chapter 8; it was hard to pick just one to share (I picked 3, hope that is okay). Sheryl Sandberg’s advice in this chapter is very valuable. Since I do not currently have a partner, it is advice that I can take and really consider as I make future life choices. One challenging thing about being a woman with the drive to succeed and excel is society’s expectations by gender. Sandberg addresses it in many ways, including acknowledging that employers often assume women will not live up to expectations of professional dedication and a man’s success is often viewed, unfortunately, in comparison to his wife.

“I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is. I don’t know of one woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully – and I mean fully- supportive of her career. No exceptions.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, p 110.

Got it? The single most important career decision. Just sort of a big deal…Now how about this:

Lean In Quote - We need more men to sit at the table..the kitchen table"

Are you reluctant to give your partner their fair share of home responsibilities? Sandberg says women should not assign or suggest tasks to their partners. Share responsibility fully. And finally:

“When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated, and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, p 115.

This chapter was a really good reminder not to settle, not to assign responsibility, and to find someone that will be a supportive and equal partner in all areas of life.




This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In – Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Don’t Leave Before You Leave

Anyone lucky enough to have options should keep them open

In chapter 7 Sheryl Sandberg discusses how planning too far in advance for a family can close doors rather then open doors. Women should lean in and “keep a foot on the gas pedal until a decision must be made” (p. 103). Staying committed to your professional development and success will help you find a position that you are satisfied with and make you more likely to want to stay in the workforce. This chapter covers many aspects of balancing career and family, acknowledging that a number of factors, including society’s expectations, play into a woman’s decision.

Sandberg also discusses the challenges planning for a career and a family presents for men. “And what about men who want to leave the workforce? If we make it too easy for women to drop out of the career marathon, we also make it too hard for men” (p. 103). The book is a good starting place to think about planning (but not planning too much) for future personal and career goals.




This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In – Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Seek and Speak Your Truth

One of the best chapters in the book. It’s a must-read and provides good reminders that an “all business approach is not always good business”. If you know me, you know that I have a tendency to be very business-oriented. Do you think you have separate professional and personal lives? Think again…

Lean In Chapter 6 Quote


This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg