Last week’s preoccupation was with role models. This week I have been pondering the issue of women who achieve – the very group for whom Attune clothes are designed. One of my colleagues asked me earlier in the week what this really meant, and she had a good question. Do we mean women who are consistently at the top of their game, or women who manage to balance and juggle many different aspects of life and keep a firm(ish!) grip on all of it? At Attune, we definitely focus on the latter, but I am sure you have not been ignorant of the press inches which have been given over to Sheryl Sandberg and her encouragement to “lean in”.
For those of you who haven’t tuned in to this argument, Sheryl Sandberg is number two at Facebook and she has caused just a little bit of controversy with her tome “Lean In”. The premise of this book is that Sandberg believes that women hold themselves back in the workplace for a variety of reasons and that if they just “leaned in” – put in a bit more effort, in other words – they could achieve much more highly. She does acknowledge that she is not always comfortable with the choices that she has had to make but the book is unapologetically feminist in tone.
I can identify with many aspects of what I have heard of Sandberg’s argument (and at the moment I confess I have only followed the press furore). I know that I have a tendency to self-sabotage (thankfully, one which is diminishing with age) and I love the comfort of retreating into what I know. But I also have a yearning to stretch myself to the limits of my abilities just to see what I can do – a trait my husband refers to as ‘academic mountain climbing’ (it is not something I do to achieve a particular goal, just to do it to see if I can).
There are other aspects, however, of Sandberg’s arguments that leave me with questions. She is proud that she leaves the office at five thirty, but she has two small children – I wonder is her over-achievement in the office taking its toll elsewhere? Sandberg’s response to her critics is clear – read the book. So I’m off to Waterstones to see if I need to “lean in” a bit more. Let me know if you have any answers on this one – I’m all ears!