Can We Both Lean In and Thrive?

This is a monumental time with so many powerful female leaders to respect and to emulate. You have probably all heard of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In and Arianna Huffington's Thrive. Sheryl makes the case for women stepping up at work and taking their seat at the table while Arianna writes about having an authentic, kind and fulfilling life. Both are bold statements that redefine success and confirm that women have more choices now than ever before.

Yes, we can push through the glass ceiling but we can also take time for ourselves, time to be generous and time to nurture deep relationships.

Our challenge here is to allow these choices to be freedom from expectations and not allow them to set ever higher and more unrealistic ideals for who we should be and how we should live.

I have spent most of the last 20 years building my career and focusing the best of my energy and time on work. At night and on the weekends, I offered whatever was left to my husband and to myself. It would take most of Friday night for me to wind down and by Sunday afternoon I was mentally back at work as I prepared for the next day. I would often wake up at night thinking of something I needed to do or should have done differently. Sound familiar?

For so many years, I defined my worth by my career. The worry and stress surrounding work provided proof of my efforts, dedication and results. Stress meant that I was giving all of myself. Worry meant that I was pushing myself to be better.

But, life has a way of waking us up. For me it was two personal losses that reminded me of our fixed and fickle time on earth and the reality that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I wanted to learn how to be more present and to appreciate the moments that I am given.

I loved Thrive and its message of slowing down and recognizing what you have right here, right now, right in front of you. A reminder that life is a balance and we are only our best when we put the time and effort into taking care of ourselves.

So lately I have been thinking, where do I balance my drive to deliver and succeed with my curiosity about how full life might be if I can slow down and be fully present right now? What would happen if I stopped regretting yesterday and worrying about tomorrow? I wonder what I could do with all of that energy and focus if I invested it into the here and now.

At work, how would that energy feel if my team members had my complete and undivided attention with compassion and without judgment?

And at home, with my family, how would that change our relationships if we were able to be mindful and bring kindness into every conversation?

Would that make me a better wife, better friend, better performer, better leader, better decision maker and better human being?

I think so. I will Lean In and I will Thrive.