Through the Looking Glass of Lean In

July 20, 2018 Coraliss Sims

Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland  is my favorite story, Quite often, I find myself feeling like a New Age Alice. Daily, I find myself trying to reconcile my White Rabbit, my Queen of Hearts, my Mad Hatter, my Cheshire Cat, and my White Queen. Meanwhile, I’m simultaneously learning which things to start or stop and which people to engage or avoid — all of which encourage me to grow bigger or smaller, depending on the task at hand.

The sequel to Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, is my second-favorite  story. In it, we find Alice pondering what the world is like on the other side of a mirror's reflection. Climbing up onto the fireplace mantel, she pokes at the wall-hung mirror and discovers, to her surprise, that she is able to step through it to an alternative world. 

Lean In relates to Alice

Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In has held various places on the The New York Times bestseller list — and it should. In my opinion, Sandberg’s book acts as the agitator of difficult, yet necessary, multifaceted conversation about women, their place in contemporary society, and their lack of equality, still, in the 21st century. Five years after the debut of Lean In, women and men openly push for a more balanced and equal world … an alternative world similar to the world Alice escapes in Through the Looking Glass. 

When I started my career at Appirio a year ago, it was smack dab in the middle of goal setting time. When my manager asked me to take a stab at writing my goals, I became Alice at the crossroads. Using the information I received during Appirio 101, I drafted what I thought would be achievable goals — one of which was to join, and actively participate in, Appirio’s Lean In program.

I was determined to be intentional about my overall development and direction via Lean In, a group of up to 12 colleagues who meet each month to explore professional topics and personal experiences in a circle of confidentiality and trust. 

What started as a draft of a goal to try something new is now stretching me in my career and my personal life. Other members share this sentiment. In the annual member survey, almost 84% of Lean In participants found the program beneficial to work, and 74% found it beneficial to life. As one Lean In member put it, “Lean In reminds me that I am not alone in my struggles with work and in my personal life. It really helps to hear others facing similar issues and talking those things out.”

Looking forward through the Looking Glass

In Through the Looking Glass, the Red Queen reveals to Alice that the entire countryside is laid out in squares, like a gigantic chessboard, and offers to make Alice a queen if she can move all the way to the eighth rank. This is comparable to the promotions I’ve sought in my career. In my Lean In circle, I have met and been impressed by Red Queens, who maneuver at breathtaking speeds — all of which have resulted in a professional or personal promotion.

Like Alice, I have made moves on the board, and I recently bypassed a square to become a circle leader. As a leader, I charter a circle of people of varying educations, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and races on different rungs of the professional ladder. We come together to focus on one thing: a movement that challenges women to look ahead in their careers, embrace their inner ambitions, and approach nothing with trepidation. 

For Alice, change was inevitable. From the maniacal unbirthday party with the Mad Hatter to the confusing “conversation” with Tweedledum and Tweedledee, change always happened to or around her — and Lean In is no different. The Appirio program that has transformed me is embarking on its own transformation. Appirio is transcending the way Lean In currently operates. A change to the name. An update to the mission. The new Arc Program will take the foundation Lean In’s success and expanded it to better support all of our Appirians. 

We are excited to see how The Arc program contributes to Appririans’ personal and professional growth. 

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