Book Club Part 2: “Noone Wears a Tiara On the Jungle Gym” Chapters 3 & 4

When I read these chapters I had two reactions.  First, I really liked the jungle gym analogy for a career path.  Mommy tracks, on and off ramps, jungle gym –it’s all the same. Women are orchestrating careers in non-traditional ways that don’t mean always looking up at someone else’s butt (Sheryl’s phrase, not mine – but I like it!).  Opportunities abound, and change, and re-present themselves.  Remaining open to interesting choices is key.  Climb around on the jungle gym and you will get all different kinds of views on your way to the top.

The second reaction I had was to the “likeability” issue.  For some reason it brought out a pet peeve of mine: the overuse of “I’m sorry”.  I have nothing against feeling badly about something you did or said and communicating your regret.  What really bothers me is when women apologize for things they had nothing to do with.  Friend 1: “Wow this coffee is really hot.”  Friend 2: “I’m sorry”.  I know that sorry can just mean sympathy – but it also means regret and apology which means responsibility.  Don’t take responsibility for a negative situation, particularly if it is difficult for you (like most women) to take credit for successes.  So the next time you want to say “I’m sorry” when you want to be sympathetic – then simply say “I wish your coffee was just right”. And one more thing on likeability.  For me, I was more interested in being viewed as fair.  If people didn’t like me, but thought I was fair, that was Ok by me.

I did appreciate The Tiara Syndrome – women expect that if they keep their heads down and do a good job, then someone will put a tiara on their head.  The reality is we need to advocate for ourselves in all things.  The challenge is to do it without the professional and social costs that come with taking credit for our successes.

The biggest idea for me in these chapters – that I am still thinking about is “Think personally, act communally”.  Women’s requests (i.e. salary negotiations, changes in responsibilities, etc) are better received when phrased as “WE” vs “I”.  I won’t do this topic justice in a paragraph so I really recommend reading pages 45-47 – and start practice changing your pronouns!

It is interesting to me that the further I get in to the book, the less I enjoy reading it.  Maybe it’s that Ms. Sandberg writes in such a “nice” fashion that the content sometimes gets lost?  Hmmmmm.

“Ms. Sandberg is no fiery polemicist: Her tone is “relentlessly pleasant,” the approach she advises for women negotiating with their bosses. But, in her deeply nice, data-driven way, Ms. Sandberg is making a revolutionary argument.”(Crystia Freeland, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/us/15iht-letter15.html?_r=0)

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