B Together

Lean In…my eyes opening book

Like Sherry Sandberg (COO of Facebook) did when writing this book, let me share with you my experience and how it truly helped me go through one of the most difficult time in my life.

After my 16 weeks of maternity leave, I started a new job in a new financial institution. At that time, I would never have predicted what was going to happen or believed anyone who would have warned me.

I had chosen this institution in particular because of its reputation, large size, international presence and culture, stability and also because I thought it would be a carrier booster. I also thought it would be a good place for women to work because usually big firms like the one I used to work for in the past value the hard work of a person no matter if you are a man or women as only results matter (I know it’s rarely true in reality, but at least they pretend they do).

Also in my mind, young mothers who were complaining all the time were doing it because of a lack of organization. And because I was supposed to be super organized, I would not fall into that trap and would certainly be able to manage it all.

So what happened in reality? An earthquake together with a nuclear bomb attack, and a Gozilla walking on the ruins!!!

I was running all day from the moment I would open my eyes in the morning at 5:50am until I had the chance to finally close them. Why 5:50am? Because no matter how tired I was, even with only 3-4 hours of sleep, I would have to do my hair, put on make up (a lot!) and dress up elegantly as I was a professional and no one would have to know that in reality I was just dead tired. I had highly under evaluated the amount of energy and work needed to take care of a young baby and still wonder how I managed it.

After having prepared her and I, I was then dropping my baby to the nursery and driving to the office. And what an office! It was a weapon of mass psychological destruction. It would take me a whole book to describe what I had been experiencing there so I will do my best to summarize in a few lines.

My 13 years of professional experience (at that time), building self confidence and recognition, dealing with the most sophisticated clients and having faced many rewarding challenges, were destroyed in 9 months, slowly, step by step, without even feeling it. The worst was they put the doubt in my head and I could not remember who I was, what I did and that I did truly belong to this role.

As per my doctor’s diagnostic, I was not burned out yet, but was extremely closed to it. I just had some little strength left to stand up and stay STOP. And then the process of reconstruction started, without chemical medication.

So what the link with this book then?

This book was part of my treatment. I don’t remember how or when I heard about it but as soon as I did, I had to get it.

Let’s not be afraid of using this word, this is a FEMINIST book and a gentle reminder that the fight for women equality is far from being completed. She wrote: “When the suffragettes marched in the streets, they envisioned a world where men and women would be truly equal. A century later, we are still squinting, trying to bring that vision into focus.”

Many of us are still confronted to constant remarks at work. They are made to destabilize us, make us believe that we should not be where we are, or that we have been lucky so far to reach that position or even worse that we used from our “charms” to get there. And if you have kids, then people blame us for not being at home with them instead of working.

After reading this book, you will understand first that you are not alone and will slowly regain some strengths page after page. You will get some very useful tricks and understand that we should not be satisfied with what we have. We should be able to speak, raise our hands, voice our opinion, dream and be ambitious if we feel like!

Some will argue that it is very US oriented or that not everyone has the chance to graduate from Harvard like Sheryl Sandberg, and that she has powerful friends like Christine Lagarde who wrote her preface. But the most important are the lessons you will learn from this are crucial and will guide you. It will for sure echoes in your mind! After the reading, I promised myself that whatever will be my next professional contract details, interesting or not, I will re-negotiate it! And I did.

My best quote is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”