We often get blocked by the assumptions we make: my company is too big to innovate; women don't support one another; men can't handle running a household. Next time you're trying to solve a tough problem ask yourself, what are the the stories I might be telling myself that could be supporting this gridlock? That is the first step to move past it.
Women are very comfortable giving and helping others. We are eager to support each other—whether at work or at home—but if we need help with certain tasks we are very hesitant to ask for help. Then, when someone does go the extra mile for us, we feel guilty that we haven't reciprocated. That's what happened to me at my latest airbnb stay (watch for the story). But I realized this: Generosity is like karma, it ebbs and flows. It's okay to receive without giving.
As an author, I am often approached by others who want to write a book. They want to know how to find an agent, get published, and if they should even write a book in the first place! Here's what I tell them: Being able to sell a book is more important than being able to write a book. Here are the top four strategies that have led to non-fiction bestsellers.
I always know when I'm overworked: I'm exhausted, my skin breaks out, my anxiety is high, and I am easily irritated—AKA I lash out at my nearest and dearest for no reason. Here's what I learned: Getting worked up only brings you down. Here's what helped: Taking stock of what was on my plate to see why I was spinning so ferociously. Watch for more on how I stopped this path to burnout.
There's a common misconception that to do good in the world you have to sacrifice a paycheck. It's simply not true. As someone who has worked in both the non-profit and for-profit sector, I know that you can create change in the world from the inside of corporate America. So when you're looking for your new job, don't limit yourself with arbitrary guidelines. Find the right job that aligns with your purpose.
On a work trip, against my better judgment, I accepted an offer to stay at a donor's house instead of a hotel. You need to watch to understand why this was the worst idea ever (spoiler: it involves puppets). Unfortunately, women are socially conditioned to be accommodating, but what this experience taught me is that it's possible to take graciousness too far. The next time you find yourself in a workplace situation where you feel like conceding will cost you too much, don't do it.
Besides being an author and an entrepreneur, I am a professional public speaker. I’m often asked by others contemplating the same path: How do I know if I have the potential to be a professional public speaker? Here’s what I ask them: When you give talks do people respond emotionally? Do people already invite you to speak, but they're unpaid? If you said yes to both, you can definitely turn your passion into a profession. Here's how to do it.
Working a party or a networking event can make most people want to break out in hives. As someone who's an introvert, I have also struggled with the format of awkward networking events. Here's what I do to get past it: I ask a set of questions to get people talking in a more natural way. Find out what they are and how to make them your own!
In her bestselling book Becoming, Michelle Obama shares a story about receiving piano lessons from her Auntie Robbie: "Middle C is the anchoring point, the territorial line between the right hand and the left hand. If you could lay your thumb on Middle C, everything else fell into place."
That passage struck a chord with me. Life is easier when you know your anchoring point. For women who are overwhelmed by the pursuit of excellence it can feel daunting to be the perfect worker, wife, friend, mother. When you can figure out what matters most to you, that becomes your anchoring point, or your Middle C.
I have been married 21 years, and I can still pinpoint the moment that made my heart swoon: It's when my husband left me a note that said, "You would make me proud in the eyes of all my village men." It wasn't the dinners I made him or what I did around the house that inspired this note; it was him watching me work hard to reach my professional and personal goals. To be successful, a woman needs a partner who is also a partner at home. We were never meant to Lean In alone.