There's been a lot of talk lately about Leaning In, a concept made popular by Sheryl Sandberg's book (y'all know this, I'm sure). It's been on my mind again, since she was a keynote speaker at BlogHer this year. For the most part, I am all for it. Reading the book didn't teach me much I didn't already know about workplace inequality, the need to support stay at home dads, and all the other wonderful feminist things I've been fortunate enough to be exposed to. But I understand that for a lot of women (and men), her message is a wakeup call.
But I don't want to talk about Leaning In right now. I want to talk about Leaning Out.
I spoke on a panel last night about setting boundaries: "When Yes People Need To Say No". It's part of the Organization Organizers Rockstar Roundtables (a series of monthly learning and development discussions that I help to organize), and I volunteered to speak on this one because I felt like I was awesome at saying no. I considered myself to be someone with years of experience in this area, ready to coach eager pupils in the art of setting and sticking to boundaries. "Hell yeah!" I cried to myself. "I can't wait to lay down some truth about boundaries!"
It was only after we started the planning process that I realized how terrible I actually am at this. I'm a "yes" person. I want to be a part of everything. I am overcommitted. I am currently battling a gnarly cold, no doubt the result of going to hard for too long. My calendar is full, and it stresses me out rather than making me feel blessed and excited. The truth is that while I may be pretty good at setting boundaries, I'm not so great on paying attention to my bandwidth.
So for the rest of the year, I am going to say no. I'm certainly not going to say yes to anything new. But I'm going to start actively saying no, without fear of disappointing someone (or myself). Or maybe with that fear, but an acknowledgement that it's ok to disappoint people sometimes.
What would I do if I wasn't afraid, Sheryl? I'd start saying no.
Do you feel powerful when you say no? Do you say no? Are you a yes-person?