Last August, I had the privilege of joining fellow Lean In leaders from around the world at the Regional Leaders Conference in Palo Alto, California. We were invited to the conference as a thank you for our commitment to the Lean In mission – to encourage women to follow their dreams and support each other in working towards achieving their ambitions.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Lean In, it all started with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. In 2013, Sheryl published the book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. The book became an instant best seller, topping both New York Times and Amazon’s best-seller lists. The book’s success is rooted in the universality of its message – “show up, come sit at the table, have the conversation, lean in”. It invites women to assess how choices they make and behaviour they have control over in a professional setting can be adapted to better position them for success.
It was incredible to meet and engage with with Lean In leaders from France, Spain, Dubai, Ireland, China, Japan, Malaysia, and many other countries. Though we came from different countries and cultures, our shared commitment to the values that drive Lean In bonded us. One very special event was our invitation to meet Sheryl for an intimate chat. As we gathered together, a hush came over the room – we all felt the magnitude of being together in the presence of the woman who began a movement we all feel so connected to.
Sitting amongst these incredible women, it occurred to me – the power of Lean In doesn’t come from Sheryl alone (though she definitely leads by example), it lives in the connection the movement forms between the women involved. As Sheryl points out in the book, as individuals, we may be able to push ourselves to a certain point, achieve some of our goals, dream of future possibilities but, together, we become a community of committed change makers – dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and motivating others and ourselves.
Home in Toronto, reflecting back on my time in Palo Alto, I’ve spent some time considering the experience I had. I’ve realized that while the opportunity to travel to the conference was truly special, Lean In’s methodology gives women the tools to support each other, day to day — a value that resonates with me and that I work towards everyday. So, back at home, I’ve recommitted myself to finding ways to connect with the incredible women around me, pushing myself and others to invest in ourselves instead of searching for a magic bullet to solve the problems that arise.
I’m so very grateful for the opportunity I was given, the relationships I’ve made and the learning I’ve taken away from the 2016 Regional Leaders Conference.
I hope you can join us at our next event. Register at www.leanincanada.com to reserve your spot. Remember, your involvement can make a difference.