Top 5 Lessons Learned from Reading “Lean In”

July 24th, 2017

ELA Member Nicole Kurut Shares Takeaways from Book Club

In 2017, the Emerging Leaders Alliance members agreed that they all wanted to take their professional development opportunities to the next level. After a few discussions about their wants and needs, they decided to take on the challenge of collectively reading four different professional development books that provided different insights into leadership. Each quarter the ELA members read a new book and ask regional leaders to sit on a panel to discuss how the books content applies to their work and give the ELA members insight into their own leadership and future plans.

The ELA also agreed that an important topic to cover is women in the workplace. They chose to read “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s current Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Panelists Sherilyn Emberton from Huntington University, Olivia Warner from Indiana Stamp and Seal, and Tony Stites from Barrett & McNagny lead the ELA members through several different topics discussed in the book.

ELA member Nicole Kurut shared the Top 5 Tips she learned from the book and the panelists.

1. You can’t have it all — balance starts at home by defining your limits.

Don’t be afraid to know your limits. Each person has a list of priorities in their life and work can’t always be number one. As a society we need to be more supportive of ourselves and coworkers as we all find a work and life balance.

2. Everyone has a dose of impostor syndrome.

With each step in our career, we are going to have a panicked “I can’t do this” moment — women especially suffer from this. You don’t need to know everything right now in order to flourish in future roles. As I get older, I have realized a lot of our managers don’t know the right answer to different questions. The important part is that you empower yourself to learn from situations as they arise and surround yourself with a great team who can give you honest feedback. 

3. Owning your success is key to achieving more success.

Sheryl talks about how women need to share each other’s successes and help promote each other within the workforce. But first, we need to get comfortable with sharing our personal successes with others. You are your best advocate — don’t wait for someone to notice how great you are, otherwise you could be waiting a while. Share your antidotes and career wins on social media and in the office every once and a while. There is no shame in success. 

4. Find a mentor.

I have always known how important it is to have a mentor, but it wasn’t until I read Sheryl’s personal successes of mentorship that I realized how underutilized this is in my life. We are lucky enough to have some great resources and leaders throughout several industries within Fort Wayne. Take a moment to sincerely invest time in finding the right mentor — your returns will be countless. 

5. Find your path and your goals, not others.

The best way to wrap up the lessons from the book really revolves around this: don’t measure your career and life with other people’s rulers. There isn’t one golden path to you have to take in order to achieve your goals, and no one has the right to judge you for how quickly or slowly you take steps toward YOUR future. Sheryl suggests taking a moment to map out what you want your future to look like in the next 18 months and over the next couple of years — from there talk with a mentor and devise a realistic plan on how to achieve it. 

I found the book to be very impactful. I've tried reading it a few times since it debuted 2013, but I don’t think I was able to appreciate it until now. As I inch closer to 30, I have challenged myself to take a closer look at what my passions are and how to engage a career that allows me to fully live and embrace those endeavors, while also finding a work and life balance. 

My biggest take away from “Lean In” was you have the skills you need to succeed, so don’t be afraid to reach for what you want. During our book club meeting, we were joined by three community leaders who also read the book and shared their opinions. There we were surrounded by the head of a university, president of a company and partner at a firm and heard them talk about their own struggles of fighting the “you can’t do this" mentality by setting up a support system of mentors and family. Each of the panelists shared that at some point in their life they were faced with the impostor syndrome — the feeling that everyone is going to find out they didn’t know what you are doing — yet they have had extremely successful careers just by putting trust in their self and their team. As I move along in my career, it was very important to hear this from local leaders and know that all walks of life will face this dilemma at some point in their life. 

Overall, after reading this book and learning from the panel, I have already began applying these lessons into mapping out what my future could look like, but most of all, I have embraced the mentality of not letting fear deter me from my dreams. 

- By Nicole Kurut, ELA member