May 16.2020

Lean In

You may be familiar with the term, ‘Lean in.’ This phrase became popular after the release in 2013 of Sheryl Sandberg’s book of the same name. In case you missed this now familiar cultural lexicon, it started with Sandberg, COO of Facebook, generating conversations around women in the workplace and how they often unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. The book became a cultural phenomenon and its title has become an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book was an encouragement for women to take risks, drive change, and pursue their goals with fervor. The term ‘Lean in’ has since broadened to mean how to get things done. 

I am a fan of Sandberg’s book and have utilized the two-word phrase many times myself. The reality is women often do not go after a job or promotion because they do not have every single qualification listed. A man under the same circumstances instead thinks, I will apply, get the job and then figure it out. Of course, this is generically speaking, but a broad stroked truth none the less. 

For years now, I have been owning this concept of ‘Lean in.’ Today I am writing about a shift I have had in my perspective. ‘Lean in’ is great, and it is necessary, but what about the opposing concept of ‘Lean back?’ 

I speak for myself only but hypothesize my actions have been duplicated by countless others, men and women alike. I have found myself to be driving business, driving success, driving growth (personally and professionally), driving change, and driving to make a difference. An amazing thing has happened as a byproduct of this unusual pandemic time of my life; I stopped driving. For the last 75 days, I have done just the opposite. Instead of ‘Leaning in,’ I have been ‘Leaning back,’ and you know what, it has been life changing. 

I did not realize I was ‘leaning back,’ and I never even planned to do it. It just sort of happened, and once it did, everything shifted. I stopped going for runs and enjoyed the pace of my daily walks. I was okay spending an afternoon writing or reading instead of looking for new business. I sat for hours and just contemplated easily about my present and enjoyed my visions of future. This contemplation was different then my thought process from the past. The edge of ‘how do I make this happen?’ did not exist. It was more of a free flow of observation and trust that things would fall into place now that it was out in the universe. My actions have been a result of following intuition and what “feels right,” and my “shoulds” have quickly been replaced with “coulds.” 

It is presumptuous for me to speak on behalf of all of us and say what is best, for that is very much an individual process. Today I am sharing what I learned in case you might benefit as well. 

I have learned there will be times when it will serve me well to ‘Lean in’, likewise, there will be times when it will serve me well to ‘Lean back.’ I have encouraged many people in the past to ‘Lean in.’ Today, I am encouraging you to ‘Lean back’ occasionally. 

Today, I went for my first run in a few months. It is now time for my next shift. I am ready for it and I am beyond excited to take my observations and personal learnings with me on the next part of my journey. 

To ‘Lean in’ or ‘Lean back,’ that is the question…. 


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1 thought on “Lean In”

  1. I really like how you gave us some context for where “Lean In” came from. It’s just what I expect from an inspirational guide, mentor, and leader.

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