In Their Shoes

Elizabeth Warren was on fire last night.

She orchestrated a searing Tweetstorm aimed at Trump. As my timeline filled with retweets of gems like this, I decided to dig in and see what conversations her tweets were generating. Wading through the @ mentions of her various tweets, my stomach began to turn. The hate and vitriol hurled at her from cowards behind keyboards was truly disgusting.

It was only last week, I’d watched this video of men reading mean tweets directed at women sportscasters. Not a day has past that I haven’t thought about it.

I have 4 daughters and this is the world I send them into every day.

Seeing women experience this kind of verbal abuse and harassment in real time lends a perspective most men should allow themselves to see and feel.

It’s seeing and feeling and experiencing what others, not like you, have to go through that can change perspectives and reshape tightly held beliefs.

In her book, Lean In, Cheryl Sandberg emphasized how critical a loving and supportive partner was to a woman’s ability to succeed in life and in the workplace. Today, she posted on reflection and how her views on partner support had changed in her first year as a single parent:

I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home.
I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home.
Being a mother is the most important — and most humbling — job I’ve ever had. As we rightly celebrate motherhood, we should give special thanks to the women who are raising children on their own. And let’s vow to do more to support them, every day.

A worthy pledge!

But one that can only be felt and sincerely advocated once a glimpse of the sacrifice and struggle of a single parent is experienced.

To begin that journey of change required walking in those shoes first.

I went on a bit of Twitter ramble this afternoon related to the news that Dropbox was tightening their belt and cutting back some employee perks. I shot off a few zingers, lobbed a few snarky @ replies, then went back to working around the house.

Those 20 min of armchair quarterbacking have caused more reflection than I’d anticipated. I work with many first time CEOs growing companies and facing challenges they’ve never faced on a daily basis. For the CEO of Dropbox, this is not only the first billion dollar business he’s run, but its likely one of the first jobs he’s ever had.

How easy to sit back and be critical of the decisions being made when there’s no skin in the game and you’ve never walked in those shoes?

From my experience today, too easy.

The web can be an incredible empathy machine if we’re open to reading, listening and experiencing life in their shoes.