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Women and Leadership: Secrets to “having it all”

My well-worn copy of "Lean In." Took a few months to finish but there are a lot of good lessons to take away. I was so glad for the opportunity to discuss it with other women at the Santa Cruz Community Foundation's book discussion. 

My well-worn copy of "Lean In." Took a few months to finish but there are a lot of good lessons to take away. I was so glad for the opportunity to discuss it with other women at the Santa Cruz Community Foundation's book discussion. 

Stepping into a circle of successful, female business owners, non-profit leaders, consultants, lawyers and board members I was instantly curious about what they had to say on women and leadership. I hoped to hear honest opinions about Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” at this book discussion and was relieved these women didn’t disappoint!  

Everything from likeability and leadership, to tough conversations at work, to the almost awkward privileged perspective Sandberg writes the book from were up for discussion. And so at six months pregnant, I felt compelled to ask my own burning question --- can women really have it all? 

If you’re a successful woman who enjoys work and decides to have children you can be sure there are a million questions that run through your head. But here’s a secret I learned from the women that day and from Sandberg’s book. The best way to have it all is to create your own definition of what having it all means. Be flexible to making that happen one day, one hour, one moment at a time. 

Here are a four more lessons from the book discussion I’m taking with me into my journey of motherhood:

  1. Be creative with your definition - Life is full of uncertainty, change and opportunity. Take what life gives you and create your own unique vision of a full and happy life. Be open to rewriting that definition over time. 
  2. Be true to yourself - If you want to work and have children do it. If you want to stay home, do that instead. Be true to what makes you happy and resist the urge to please or compare yourself to others. 
  3. Build yourself up - Feeling overwhelmed by the incredible amount of things to do at work and home everyday is natural. So don’t beat yourself up when things aren’t perfect. Build yourself up by focusing on wins. Progress over perfection will keep you moving in life. Remember and repeat daily.
  4. Lean back, let your partner(s) lean in - Having it all doesn’t mean doing it all. If you are fortunate enough to have support at home from a partner or from family and friends, let the ones you love lean in to help. You are one person, and no one person (man or woman) can do everything. Let people around you help in their own way -- even if it’s not your way. Your sanity will thank you later!

What do you think about having it all? Leave a comment so I can hear more thoughts and wisdom around parenthood and work.

Reflections on Freelancing & Humble Words of Advice for Doing Your Own Thang in 2014