As I read Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," I nodded so hard that I worried my neck would sprain. I noticed after a while that the highlight function on my Kindle was turning every page fully yellow.
The takeaway? Succeeding in business—whether that business is a blog, the PTA, or being COO of Facebook—is hard, and nobody can do everything right. But you can try, and you can remain a human being while doing it.
My own mom was a classic '70s feminist who dressed me in brown corduroy, cropped my hair short ("because you should be reading, not brushing your hair 100 times each night"), and led by example, raising her voice Brooklyn-style whenever she felt she was being slighted. Even under her tutelage, I internalized the idea that ambition and aggression were a turn-off. And that's a trap so many of us fall into: We want to be nice all of the time, whether at home or at work.
It's a constantly evolving position, a constantly moving target: How can we women—and men, too—be true to ourselves while succeeding in the workplace? In her book, Sandberg gives us nine instances when being nice isn't just unneeded—it's actively holding us back.
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