Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is an extra-ordinary woman not because she heads the great company, but because she has shunned ordinariness. In a very perceptive book titled ‘Lean In’, she has explained how every woman can rise above ordinariness. This is actually THE message for all of us women who have a problem of not being called equal by men.
In the previous episode of this series, we talked of dethroning men from our restrictive thinking. But dethroning does not mean throwing men out of our lives, which we, anyway, can and will never do. Here, dethroning means not allowing the men to occupy unnecessary space in our mind over the issue of equality.
Sheryl Sandberg, too, talks a similar language.
She says, women have the power but don’t have the perception of how to assert. So lean in, she adds.
What is leaning in?
Simple. In Sandberg’s idea, ‘Lean In’ is the principle.
Generally, women lean out, in the sense they stay aloof. That is, however, not the idea. Why lean out when chips are down? And chips are down every moment. So, women must keep leaning in all the time, asserting their presence in every situation – at home or at work or in the society.
The moment we start leaning in, not leaning out, then men will never have an exclusive domain to toy around with us and our minds and our reputations.
But what do we actually do when we lean in? Let us decide that first.
Leaning in means remaining present, at least mentally, so that men do not take undue advantage of our aloofness. Leaning in does not mean only stopping men; it means surging forward in all situations. Leaning in also means realising our qualities and potentials and using those at every step of the way without relenting, without giving in and giving up.
Dear friends, when we lean in, we tell the world that we are there, to be counted, to be relied upon, but to be given credit for all we do. But, this is not just a credit-game. On the contrary, this is an assertion that you, the men, do not have to give us credit, because it belongs to us and you are no one to give it to us.
This is not just philosophy; this is a practical idea.
Sheryl Sandberg says, women have all the qualities, but do not lean in to take leadership of situations and issues. In her words, we have all the qualities to lead but not the will to lead.
The effort, therefore, should be to create that will of leadership in our hearts, so that men cannot conspire to tell us that we cannot lead the human society. The effort should be to ensure that we lead at the right places, and also allow men their share of work and blame and also credit.
So, WE should allow men to get their share of everything. Until now, the men did that. Henceforth, we will take over.
That is leaning in.
Equality debate gets settled thus.
Of course, many women since time immemorial have achieved this. Yet, most of us only adhere to our ordinariness and avoid leaning in. And therefore, we suffer.
That should not be the story.
We need to rewrite our own story, as many of us, including Sheryl Sandberg, have done that.
So, from now on, the story should read as if it OUR story written by us and not as dictated be men. The details should be ours, the nuances should be ours, the twists and turns should be ours, and destination, too, should be defined and decided by us.
That is leaning in.
When we lean in like that, we will prove ourselves to be more than equal.
Let us do that, as a matter of our religion, and not as a matter of largesse from men or the larger society.