Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In:Women, Work and the Will to Lead is stirring some controversy. Some feel that Sandberg is speaking  from a fantasy world and out of touch with the reality most women live with. They suggest that her perspective puts unhelpful pressure on women to keep pressing against the glass ceiling while having a family.

I look forward to reading some excerpts of the book and deciding if it’s worth my time and effort to read the rest. I’ll decide for myself if I think she puts undue pressure on women to try to balance motherhood and career advancement. And, that is just the point I take away from this: it is my decision.

Decision making about what “I” believe is where many of the women I work with get stuck.  They don’t know how to make major decisions because they’ve been socialized to listen to everyone else’s perspective. Often, when asked what do you think, feel, believe–about their own lives or cultural issues–they hold back, stumble and aren’t sure what to say.

Self-doubt and disconnection from what “I” think, feel, want, need, begins when girls aren’t taken seriously. One young adult woman I worked with on reclaiming her voice told me flat out: “Nobody takes teenage girls seriously.”

Solid decision making in adult life begins with adults taking girls and teenagers seriously. We have a great privilege to listen to them, ask questions, value their ideas–even when we think they are strange or wrong. And, rather then telling them they are wrong, we can offer our perspective, or a different perspective, and encourage them to consider other views.

Ultimately each of us is responsible for our own lives. Sheryl Sandberg and her detractors have their perspectives. I will have mine.

Be it in matters of eating and exercise or career choices, each one of us gets to discover and listen to our own wisdom, not just follow someone else’s plan for our lives. That work begins with our girls–taking them seriously and listening to them.

I do love what Sandberg said in her CNN interview: “I want every little girl who is told that she’s bossy to hear that she has leadership skills.”  Amen to that. As a little girl and adult woman who has been accused of being bossy, I appreciate the re-frame. Bossy girls can grow up to be remarkable women!