“Done is better than perfect” – lessons from Sheryl Sandberg on her 47th birthday


“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

A delightful inspiration to women all over the world, Sheryl Sandberg is the embodiment of the optimism we all aspire for. Sandberg, an outstanding figure in the business world and also a single mother to two impressionable children, rallies for the rights of working women across the world – encouraging them to “lean into life” and maximise on everything it has to offer.


Sandberg’s famously stated point is that women should not be subjected to choosing between working professionally and raising their family. As she has relegated tirelessly, a woman can carry out both responsibilities equitably without sacrificing on one or the other.

For all those living under a rock, Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, before which she served as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations of Google for seven years. As of 2016, her net worth estimated roughly at $1.42 billion according to Forbes. She is also the seventh most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes’ 2016 list of the same. Sandberg is a Harvard alumnus and recently released her much-awaited book Lean In. With over 2.25 million copies sold globally, the book became an instant bestseller.

Her presence on the Facebook board of directors is vastly impressive, not only because she managed to raise the company’s shares and revenues by a wide margin, but also because she was the first woman on it. However, Sandberg’s unchallenged rise to the top of the ladder was not without its fair share of tragedy. In May last year, Sandberg lost her husband of eleven years, leaving her broken, hollow and in the difficult position of having to raise her two children alone.

The world was moved over the open letter that Sandberg had written about her deceased husband, in which she spoke about how she found herself at the periphery of two divergent roads – one that would force her backwards into misery and the other that would propel her forwards into healing and acceptance.

On her 47th Birthday, we draw lessons from this mountain of power and discipline, which we hope will inspire every girl and woman out there to fight for her dream and everything she believes in, no matter what hurdles life throws their way.

Don’t hold back

“Real change will come when powerful women are less of an exception. It is easy to dislike senior women because there are so few.”

Sandberg is one of the foremost forces rallying for women empowerment. She tells women that it is necessary that they don’t hold themselves back from achieving true greatness in the face of societal norms. In Lean In, she emphasises the need for women to be more comfortable with power to the extent that one day the concept of a female leader will not be a “rarity” but rather a natural order of the world.

Work-life balance

“I hope you find whatever balance you seek with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you – yes, you – have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it.”

Sandberg persists on the point that when it comes to work and family, it is unnecessary to pick one to compromise on the other. She states that although it isn’t a breeze balancing the two and dedicating enough time to both parties, success lies in recognising that this balance exists and inching more towards it every day. The day you realise that balance and work it well, there is no stopping you from anything you put your mind to do.

Breaking gender-stereotypes

“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

To Sandberg, equality for women doesn’t mean that they have to have a superior edge in society over men. Empowering women doesn’t mean demeaning men or making them sacrifice for the former. To achieve gender equality, it is imperative to break gender stereotyping. This means that recognising that women can do all the work that is unofficially set aside for men and men can do all the work that is traditionally set aside for women. That, to her, is gender equality, and consequently, women empowerment.

Stand up for yourself and for others

“We must raise both the ceiling and the floor.”

In her book, Sandberg emphasises that it is not only the duty of everyone woman to stand up for themselves and call out others on their sexist or patriarchal outlooks and comments but also their greater calling to stand up for other men and women who can’t voice themselves. To her, it is only when we help each other in times of imminent crisis and crossroads that we will truly emerge victorious.

Sheryl Sandberg is a self-made inspiration for men and women across the globe, and with her words and actions, there is hope that yet another can beat their personal demons and shine.


Updates from around the world