My friend Carol who “leaned in” years ago

For those of you who follow the wonderful blog called “The Bookshelf of Emily J”  you know that she recently highlighted Sheryl Sandberg’s book called “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” The post can be found with the attached link: http://emilyjanuary.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/women-at-work-leaning-in/. After reflecting more on Emily’s post, I decided to tell a story about my friend Carol who during the early part of her career realized she was not doing what she wanted to do and did something about it.

The fact that she realized she was not fulfilling her dream is not the story, as many come to this realization. The story is she did something about it and took a leap of faith back into her dream. Carol had always wanted to be a social worker, but she listened to the counsel of her father and studied something more practical in college that would gain her a better paying career. Unfortunately, he was focused on the economic value of the career and not the psychic value of helping those in need.

So, she got a great education from a wonderful college and embarked on a career with a major electric utility. She was doing very well, but something was missing. She did not know what until she began volunteering with a crisis assistance organization that helped people who were about to be evicted from the homes or have their power shut off. Through this community service, she rediscovered her social worker mindset and calling. So, she sought and discovered opportunity with this agency.

Since she also had the business mindset from her schooling, she was able to leverage her heartfelt desire to help those in need. Eventually, she became the Executive Director of this organization and has successfully led them for many years. Because of her solid reputation, she is also a go-to person for many community efforts or to be a spokesperson on the plight of those in need. She lends her voice to those whose voice cannot be heard.

I like many things about Carol. But, in my dealings with her, she listens to what others have to say and she is comfortable enough in her own skin to change her opinion if you present good arguments. Yet, she is also confident enough to stick to her guns when she feels she is in the right. And, she can sway those who may disagree with her through her intellect and conviction. Many new ideas have been piloted through her involvement, whether directly or indirectly. She is a wonderful partner. There is an old saying about change. When you are looking to have change, make sure you have people on the bus that will help move it forward. You want Carol on that bus.

Carol leaned in early on. She changed the arc of her career to do something she loved. She rediscovered her passion. Yet, she is also someone who you want to work with. That is one of her true gifts. Together, with Carol on board, we can solve many more problems than without her involvement. She is one those “lights” that President George H.W. Bush spoke of so many years ago. Thanks Carol. You are one of her lights. In fact, you are a gem.

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5 thoughts on “My friend Carol who “leaned in” years ago

  1. Note to Readers: I wanted to add a couple of examples of Carol’s community collaborations. Although we live fourteen hours away, she helped coordinate a response to house homeless transplants due to Hurricane Katrina which hit the Gulf coast. She also helped pilot an effort to help homeless families climb a ladder back to self-sufficiency. These examples involved collaboration from several agencies and Carol’s goodwill helped accomplish this with similarly minded people.

  2. Carol sounds amazing! I think she represents the way women of all positions can use Sandberg’s ideas in their careers. Sandberg’s book has been criticized for representing the privileged 1%, but I like seeing these ideas in Carol’s career. She reminds me of my sister, who is so smart and ambitious and uses her talents to work for a nonprofit that works to end poverty. Thanks for the shout-out!

    • Emily, it is my pleasure. Thanks for your comments and post on “Lean In.” It makes my heart soar to see people like Carol and your sister use their talents to help others. Tell your sister she has a fan who has never met her. Have you gotten reacclimated to the states after your travels? Thanks again, BTG

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