Lean Out to Lean In

Finding the right balance.

During a recent conversation with a colleague of mine,  I was asked about my “go” moment. The moment I decided to pursue my career full steam. Back then it was not yet called leaning in. There were actually two catalysts for me deciding to focus on my career. I will write about them separately in another article.

Instead, in this piece, I want to tell you about how I found the elusive work-life balance.


The question is often asked, “Can I have it all?” Women often search for the answer on how they can climb the ladder while also being super mom. I was able to find a way to be both! However, it was not at the same time.

Leaning in:

When I was leaning in, I took stretch projects and worked long hours. I made myself available all times of the day and night. I sacrificed. I had to reprogram myself to understand that if the dishes were left in the sink overnight, it did not reflect negatively on who I was as a person. My husband pitched in and learned to cook. My kids washed their own clothes. A small re-division of labor in the household made a big difference for my sanity. I realized that if small things did not get done, such as trimming the rose bushes, that didn’t signal the end of the world. The roses kept blooming after all.

leaning in

Leaning out:

Leaning out was equally important. I had to determine for myself what I could not sacrifice.

I refused to miss a ballgame. I never missed a spelling bee. I cut off my cell phone during family events such as birthday parties, report card celebrations, and date night with my husband.

Related: Balancing Work and Home Life

I took paid time off every time my asthmatic son had to stay home because his lung function was low enough to require breathing treatments every four hours. I did all of this without any guilt.

I knew it was equally important to lean out as it is to lean in. It was the only way I could balance my career aspirations along with having a family. I can tell you from personal experience that your co-workers will respect your values and decisions. It might even help them to find work-life balance for themselves.

The more you are able to find that perfect work life balance, the more your personality will be able to shine through without the excess stress.

I’d love to know what you think!  When was your go moment?  Do you think it might be a good idea to lean out to lean in sometimes?  Please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Written by Heather


Heather graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BSEE. Later, she received her MBA. As a mother of four wonderful children, she has found a way to balance her career with her role as Mom. After becoming director of engineering for a global engineering firm, she decided to start her own company. She is CEO of Select Power Systems, LLC.

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