Sitting At The Table

Yesterday, I found myself at an Executive Committee meeting in the boardroom of a law firm.  I was the last to arrive – I juggle being a mom to a 14-month old and working – and when I entered the room, there were 14 gentlemen, mostly Caucasian.  I was the only woman.  A bit intimidating, a bit awkward.

This past summer, I happened upon Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk.  And the talk moved me.  A lot.  I must have sent that talk out to every one of my working mother friends as well as watched it about 10 times.  The line that strikes me every time – Women systematically underestimate their own abilities.

Ms. Sandberg urges women who want to be at the C-suite, to “sit at the table”.  While my goal is not to grab a C-suite job, I do want to be a leader in my sector.  So when I walked into that room and every inch of me told me that I’m out of my league, I decided to stop myself and sit at the table.  And contribute.  And not underestimate my abilities.

The group tasked me with organizing one of their monthly events.  Not sure if it was partly a form of hazing but I prefer to think of it as having earned their respect over the previous 3 hours of discussion and strategy.  But whatever the reason, I sat at the table for the first time and learned that I am capable and that maybe I am actually good at it.

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