My Own Lean In Circle

This week in coffee...a couple of visits to Caribou, one visit to Panera. At Caribou, I ordered a lite version of a turtle mocha. Allegedly, this has 40% less calories than a regular one. I'm too chicken to ask the question, "Forty percent of what?"

At my last visit to Caribou, I brought along the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I've since finished it. I ate it up. Sandberg is encouraging women to create Lean In circles for women to connect with each other and support their efforts to meet their leadership potential. It's not a new idea. Over a decade ago, a few friends committed to meet monthly to discuss our life goals. We called ourselves the goals goddesses. Our Organizer, our Athena, invited about a dozen of women to the first meeting. I'd say a core six remained committed to meeting regularly to discuss our goals.

Our goals were professional in nature as well as personal. On the Lean In website, there are exercises for groups to experience together to build their connection. We did this kind of stuff. We wrote ourselves letters as if we were 80 years old and looking back on our lives. We created our own mission statements for our work with the help of Laurie Beth Jones's book, The Path. The words from my mission guide my conversations with colleagues these days...I talk about the promise of developing students through learning, the power of ideas, the dreams of a better life through education. We talked about what we saw each other doing in twenty years and what we thought our lives would look like. We empowered each other by asking tough (sometimes scary) questions of each other knowing the answers would come with a level of support that we couldn't find anywhere else.

What's happened since we started? Life. Only a few of us live close to each other but, for some moments, it doesn't matter. When each of us turned 30, the group pitched in to buy something in a little blue box from Tiffany and Co. When I defended my dissertation, I was shocked to see my friends had flown in (on a Wednesday!) to celebrate an eight and half year long process. We send each other flowers on the first day of any new job. We recommend wine, therapists, and fertility doctors in addition to figuring out how to talk to our bosses. We have been leaning in, way in, before it was cool to lean, Sheryl. And I, for one, am going to keep leaning because my goal is to pay for all of us to go to a spa in Arizona when we turn 40.


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