#72 – Don’t Lean

There is no formula for success except perhaps unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.  –Arthur Rubenstein

In Current Events essay #69 entitled “Don’t Move,” we advised our readers not to move in reaction to their fear involving global warming. We can’t escape the consequences of our destruction of the natural environment which we failed to appreciate. We can run but we can’t hide.

Similarly, we can’t escape the consequences of our false-self reactions if we are employed in the corporate world. “The door to the Lean In office in Palo Alto, Calif., has Sheryl Sandberg’s name on it. The email addresses for Lean In employees bear her initials. And millions of dollars in funding every year for the women’s empowerment organization comes from her.” (1)  Like their male counterparts women are apparently increasingly seeking power.

Where did this “movement” encouraging women to become more like men come from? “Ms. Sandberg’s workplace feminism revival began with her 2013 book, ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.’ Research she popularized at the time—about how women do not negotiate as strongly as men do for raises, about how posing like Superwomen in the bathroom can help women stand more authoritatively for a presentation—is now mainstream. Her phrases became part of the lexicon.” (1)

Of course, not all women agree with the desirability of Sheryl Sandberg’s version of “corporate feminism.” Kathrine Goldstein, who hosts a podcast about working moms called Double Shift, initially supported Sandberg’s vision for women in the corporate world but has come to see things differently. “I no longer ascribe to her view of corporate feminism as a heroic thing. Its inherent message is that corporations and workplaces are basically benevolent and good.” (1)

So which is it? Should American working women be “leaning in” or should they be approaching the workplace as an environment that needs do a better job of changing to accommodate them?

Before women, or men for that matter, continue seeking power by leaning in or out or up or down, they would do well to have a more profound understanding of what power actually is.

Insight # 72:   Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by fear of punishment, and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.  –Gandhi



  1. Bowles, Nellie. “Exploring Lean In’s Sheryl Sandberg Problem.” The New York Times Business. December 9, 2018, pages 1, 7.

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