LeBron James wants you to lean in. So does Chris Bosh. So does Dwyane Wade. So what exactly does that mean? Well, they’re all a part of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s #LeanInTogether campaign, an offshoot of her #LeanIn movement, itself inspired by her bestselling book of the same name. It’s a pretty simple concept: men ought to support talented, hardworking women in their efforts to excel in the workplace. But it’s apparently unusual enough that it requires a sophisticated media blitz to make its point. And what a great point it is.
Here’s a video of NBA and WNBA players showing their support:
It’s a good video – short, sweet, and to the point. It does what it sets out to do. But I found a lot more meaning from this video from Makers, in which such famous women as Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and Lena Dunham discuss the important impact that an encouraging father can have on his young daughter. It’s (gasp!) over three minutes long, but it moves fast and it’s well worth your time and effort, especially if you’re a dad or you plan to become one one day.
I remember when I was three and my dad was 27, he’d stick price tags on all the furniture in the house and invite me to “go shopping.” I think I had a character named Mrs. Smith and I believe I’d dress up for the occasion, betraying an early flair for the theatrical. I would pick out a certain number of dimes before shopping and then I’d decide whether I wanted to spend 10 cents on the ottoman and 30 cents on the couch, or if I would rather save all 40 cents for the television set. I generally saved it for the television set, presumably so that I could watch my favorite TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard.
Now, the idea was to teach me the value of money, to introduce the concept of budgeting, and to touch on rudimentary concepts of banking and credit. I think what I got out of it was that I enjoy shopping, a rather stereotypical pastime that vaguely horrified my dad. He had visions of me being a financial maven, a math whiz, perhaps even one of those newfangled computer geniuses they were starting to talk about on the news. But alas, my passion was for writing. So he adapted, and became the proud dad of a kid who sucked at math but excelled in the humanities (and could at least write reasonably entertaining science reports).
For me, the #LeaninTogether campaign reminds me of just how lucky I am to have a dad who supports and encourages me. Even now, at 34, I feel fortunate that I have a father who wants me to do well as a writer and a comedian; who cheers on my victories and comforts me in my disappointments; and who seems pretty damn proud of me, despite my numerous flaws. In many ways, I am who I am today because of him. He didn’t always love my life choices at first, but he always got on board quickly and helped me figure out ways to make things work. And he never ever gave me anything less than the impression that I could conquer the world if I just set my mind to it.
I hope that all girls can experience that kind of support and encouragement from a man, whether he is a father, brother, uncle, grandfather, friend, or coworker. And I hope the #LeanInTogether campaign will help.
Sara Benincasa is a comedian and the author of Great and Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom. She tweets @sarajbenincasa and is currently on tour: dates are at SaraBenincasa.com/shows.