lean in– favorite quotes

This blog is going to be different than most of my other blogs. I read this really awesome book recently and there were so many great quotes that my book is decked out with pink sticky notes. I wanted to compile (almost) all those quotes into one location, so why not post it on my blog?

Below are all the quotes (okay, some of them are full chunks, but the more the merrier!) and their page numbers. Some of the quotes I have thoughts or opinions on, and some of them are just extravagant enough to be left alone. Now what is this extremely quotable book? Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

Some of these quotes are amazing for women, for job searching, or for student affairs. If these quotes even spark your curiosity, please read it. It’s a great (and honestly, a really easy) read! Update: All the page numbers are from the extended version for graduates. Please see my note about this at the bottom. 

“So I thought about calling you and telling you all the things I’m good at and all of the things I like to do. Then I figured everyone was doing that. So instead, I want to ask you: What is your biggest problem, and how can I solve it?” (p. 66)

This is the best interview advice, probably ever. Not only does this piece challenge me to look at interviews in a new light, but it’s a really great concept to keep in mind in general.

“Over the years, I have repeated Eric’s advice to countless people, encouraging them to reduce their career spreadsheets to one column: potential for growth.” (p. 74)

If you’re no longer growing, then what are you accomplishing? If you focus on growth then everything else will fall into place.

“She told me that for one week I couldn’t give my opinion unless I was asked. It was one of the longest weeks of my life. If I had bitten my tongue each time I started to express my opinion, I would have had no tongue left.” (p. 76)

Okay so this isn’t the most insightful quote, but it would be a challenge! It really made me so some great self reflecting, especially as an #SAGrad. Do I share more than I listen…? (cue slight guilt)

“If the other path made her happier and offered her a chance to learn new skills, that meant she was actually moving forward.” (p. 77)

Keep this in mind while applying for jobs.

“Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that– and I’ll learn by doing it.” (p. 79)

We all need to*

Asking for input is not a sign of weakness but often the first step to finding a path forward.” (p. 90)

I know I am often afraid to ask for input. Whether it’s help, advice, or just an opinion, sometimes it can be hard to speak up (contrary to a few quotes up). I let fear stop me from trying. I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. I don’t want to admit that I don’t know. I try to prove that I can do it on my own. This is probably the silliest (and the most detrimental) thing I can believe about myself, especially since my time as an #SAGrad IS my time to learn.

“So the irony– and, to me, the tragedy– is that women wind up leaving the workforce precisely because of things they did to stay in the workforce.” (p. 119)

This one is resonated with me on a real personal level. You can ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that having a family is my biggest goal and #1 priority in my life. (Disclaimer: Having the right family with the right person… not just anybody. But I can get into relationships in a later blog because I definitely have a lot to say on that topic). To be honest, most of my life I grew up with a dream job of “Stay-At-Home Mom.” Say what you want about it and gender stereotype and such, but that’s genuinely what I want(ed?) for my life. But part of the reason for that: I never found anything or thought I would find anything that could bring me as much joy. But then I found Student Affairs.. and that started to change.. and it really freaked me out.

So if you’ve ever struggled about balancing a family and work, read this chapter. If you’ve ever worried about “getting into your career too deep” to have a family.. read this chapter. I could try to explain but that would just be an insult to Sheryl. All I know from this chapter is this: I will continue to work my butt off for this career that I love, AND I will (hopefully) one day have my family.. and I WILL HAVE THEM BOTH. You don’t believe me? Just stay tuned…

“… many employers focus on hours clocked in the office rather than on achieving their goals are efficiently as possible.” (p. 165)

This quote became real interesting (especially in SA) after the recent chatter about the Department of Labor’s overtime ruling (see more Q&A here). But that issue aside, this is still an important point. I really hate how time based we are instead of accomplishment based. Yes, it looks like that may change. I am still trying to decide if I think it is a change for the better or not (there are a lot of pros and cons and I would love to talk it out with anyone who wants to share their perspective). But how often do you say, “It’s okay, I don’t have a lot to do today anyway” or “I gotta stay late and get this done.” We view ourselves in a matter of 8am-5pm (but not really) instead of focusing on what needs to get done, let’s do it well, and move on. It’s a complex mindset we’ve been taught.

“I am paying them for the quality of their work, not for the hours they work.” (p. 165-166)

If anyone said this to be in a job interview, I would accept it on the spot.

“If I had to embrace a definition of success, it would be that success is making the best choices we can… and accepting them.” (p. 175)

I often strive for perfection (making the best choice and accepting nothing less) instead of striving for success (making the best choice and accept that I did my best). What would change if we started accepting our own success more often?

“Every job will demand some sacrifice. They key is to avoid unnecessary sacrifice.” (p. 196)

Just let that one sink in for a minute…

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in our absence.” (p. 198)

Remember my other post about #BeA10? This is the Sheryl quote behind that motivation.Your presence should make others better not just in the moment, but enough to resonate with them once the conversation or meeting has ended.

Equal opportunity is not equal unless everyone receives the encouragement that make seizing those opportunities possible.” (p. 202)

I bolded this entire quote because of how important it is. If there is anything I could blast on retweet on my Twitter page and during the #SAChat due to the recent tragedies… it would be this. Nothing will be equal unless  E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. accepts it to be their own responsibility. This goes for any concept, but my heart aches for all those affected by the recent shootings, which unfortunately affects multiple groups.

“Gender should neither magnify nor excuse rude and dismissive treatment. We should expect professional behavior, and even kindness, from everyone.” (p. 209)

I only included that first sentence for context. The second sentence is the important one.

“We all want the same thing: to feel comfortable with our choices and to feel validated by those around us. So let’s start by validating one another.” (p. 212)

This brings me back to the recent discussions on #SAchat and with #SApro s as a whole. I often try to be extremely cautious of what I say on that matter since I will be applying for jobs soon and realize I am brand new to this field, but I think we all could afford to hear this quote right now. I may not be able to fix anything, or even help anyone, but I can validate how others feel in these situations and daily. And that’s my job… for now.

“It’s up to us to end the self-fulfilling belief that ‘women can’t do this, women can’t do that.’ Throwing up our hands and saying ‘It can’t be done’ ensures that it will never be done.” (p. 216)

Why do we accept defeat? Not even with women, but I do this with myself.

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” (p. 217)


Okay Sheryl, I see you.

GRADUATES: Sheryl wrote a “For Graduates” adaption that includes a letter, job interviews, resume tips, listening to your own voice, first job, etc. specially for recent graduates and those looking for jobs. I just bought it off Amazon and while I haven’t gotten to the extend parts yet, I would highly recommend this version if you are looking into buying it.


XOXOXO, amandarae

quote of the day: *all of Lean In* – Sheryl Sandberg

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