When I first read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, I felt like I was in the minority of female leaders who didn’t love it. Having spent a career leaning in so far that I’d practically fallen over, I didn’t like her intimation that, by opting out of the corporate track and leaping into entrepreneurship, I’d somehow “sold out.” Leaning in hard to my career had caused me to burn out at least twice, develop a myriad of physical afflictions due to my ability to bury my stress: picture hives, eye twitching, itchy palms, sweating through suits and, everyone overstretched leaders’ best friend – insomnia. Leaning out allowed me to regain myself. Leaning out allowed me to lean in to work that I loved doing with people who I loved doing it with.
Leaning out wasn’t the end of my ability to impact the lives of others and make a difference. Sometimes we can get so caught up in other people’s expectations or definitions of success that we can lose track of what’s really important to ourselves. If you feel like you want to lean out, then do it. In my experience, leaning out allows you to gain clarity on what’s important and how you want to show up for your life. After all, you only get one chance at this life, might as well make the most of it.
What area of your life could you “lean out” from to create more space?