Forget Lean In.

Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead never sat well with me. Sure it was a massive best seller. And at the time, Sandberg was the most admired and most famous woman in tech, and one of the most powerful in American business. Back then, Facebook was well loved and Lean In became a bit of a manifesto for working women.

In Lean In, Sandberg suggests (among other things) that women are leaving the traditional workforce to have children too soon, that female leaders need to simply be more confident, and women should help each other succeed. Lean In circles became a thing. And it felt, to me, like a whole generation of new graduates were being brainwashed into thinking that the problem with inequality had nothing to do with men. Worse, the message of Lean In seemed to be that women needed to act more like men to get ahead.

I had just had my second child and speaking out against the Lean In phenomenon while working for myself didn’t feel right. Having long left the corporate world (was I ever really properly in it?!), I knew I wasn’t Sandberg’s intended audience. But my gut told me Lean In was flat out wrong.

Sandberg’s belief that most companies are benevolent and that the world was meritocratic didn’t align with the world as I knew it. And the message that that women and their self-doubt was the real problem? B*#%sh$@. I’ve always thought that the real problem was the bro-culture. Over-confident, shamelessly self-promoting bro-culture — which led to catastrophic problems at Enron and led to the financial crisis of 2008. And to the withdrawn IPO of WeWork.

And what about women’s strengths? Our ability to connect with people. Our preference (whether natural or nurtured) for consensus building. Our instinct for taking responsibility. Couldn’t our strengths be harnessed to help us all get ahead, without losing ourselves? What about discussing how insecure men are intimidated by smart women (and the side effects of that cultural problem)?

Or as Tina Brown wrote in the NYTimes, “Salvation doesn’t lie in pursuing traditional male paths of ejaculatory self-elevation. In drawing on women’s wisdom without apology and pushing that wisdom forward into positions of power, we can soothe our world and, maybe, even save it.”

Sure Lean In had some insights — I’m not arguing that it didn’t. Yes, women should advocate for themselves (at work and at home). Yes, women should champion their own projects and ideas. Yes, women should negotiate for better salaries and benefits — and do so unapologetically. And yes, for certain women in certain corporate cultures, I’m sure Lean In is inspiring and effective.

But on a whole, it’s a load of crap. It doesn’t work for single mothers, as the premise of Lean In requires supportive, high-earning husbands. It doesn’t work for women of color, who face additional hurdles / challenges. It doesn’t make space for women who have interests outside of work and kids. Even former fan girls have been abandoning the movement and some scientists have started to argue that Leaning In leads to dsyfunctional leadership.

In fact, one of the main findings of the 2018 Women in the Workplace study, produced by McKinsey & Co. and, was that Leaning In is not the problem. Women had already been leaning in! Women have made clear their desire to advance in the workplace and to achieve gender equality.

It is up to companies to step up.

In the meantime, I’m grateful that Melinda Gates is pouring her time and energy into women’s equality via Equality Can’t Wait (not to mention investing $1 Billion in solving this issue). And until we get to gender equality (both in and out of the workplace), project-based work is a viable alternative for women who want a meaningful, challenging career but also want more out of life. In the long-term, I believe project-based work will continue to be a path to career success and work-life fit, even after companies implement changes to advance more women.

Maybe I’m just being naive, but I’m feeling confident that I’ll see gender equality in my lifetime. After all, the Women in the Workplace report (and many other reports) have clearly presented the business case for diversity. Having women leaders is good for business, good for the economic bottom line.

So throw Lean In out the window. Find your strength. Carve your own path to a fulfilling and successful career.

And let me know what you think we can (and should) be doing today to solve the problem Lean In intended to solve — gender equality in the workplace.

Yolanda Lau is an experienced entrepreneurship consultant, advisor, and Forbes Contributor. She is also an educator, speaker, writer, and non-profit fundraiser.

Since 2010, she has been focused on preparing knowledge workers, educators, and students for the future of work.

Learn more about Yolanda here.

Work/Life Balance is a Myth. Aim for Work-Life Fit.

Balance implies equality. It implies a 50–50 split, and an unsteady teetering in the search for balance. It’s why work/life balance is so elusive and unachieveable, inducing guilt and anxiety, particularly for working moms. And it’s why I prefer the term work-life fit (or as others write it, “work+life fit”). The difference between fit and balance is subtle but important.

The truth is, work is a part of life. It’s all one and the same. You can’t balance work with life when work is a part of life.

When you stop trying to find “balance” and instead focus on what you can control to make your professional life and personal life “fit” together, you find new ways to pursue personal and career goals. Note that the root of this reframing, from focusing on the problem to focusing on the solution, works for almost any challenge. It broadens the horizons, allowing you to find non-obvious answers.

Work-life fit also implies that there’s no cookie cutter answer. It enables people to seek ways to create an individualized work-life fit, regardless of the traditional boundaries of time and place.

And whereas the search for work-life balance often feels like the domain of working moms and dads, work-life fit is about all of us. Parents, singles, married without kids, folks taking care of elderly parents or other family members who need assistance, millennials, baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Z, all of us. Work-life fit is the desire to pursue careers that don’t come at the expense of other factors in our life, regardless of demographic. It’s something we all deserve.

For some people, work-life fit means flexibility in when and how you work. Some examples of this are:

  • Can you work from home a few days a week?
  • Can you make up work you’ve missed on your own time, instead of using PTO every time you need to step out of the office?
  • Can you step out of the office for errands, school plays, medical appointments, volunteer work, or for any reason?
  • Can you time-shift your work day so that you are commuting at off peak hours?
  • Has your employer implemented a 32 hour work week with Fridays off?
  • Can you work from home when a family member needs attention (medical or otherwise), instead of using PTO?

But there are other subtle ways to help achieve work-life fit. For example, setting boundaries so that work doesn’t blur into personal life. A culture where vacation time is respected and encouraged, and “checking in” is discouraged. Or a culture where employees are encouraged to have interests outside of work. Or a team where colleagues can cover for you when you have to step outside of the office, or managers who understand and accommodate requests to flex your schedule.

Unfortunately, many (dare I say most?) employers aren’t there yet. Many corporations and start-ups still expect employees to be diligent robotic workers without cares or interests outside of the office. But it’s unrealistic. And times are changing.

That is why we started FlexTeam — to allow highly educated women to stay as engaged in their careers as they choose. We each found our own work-life fit by doing project-based consulting, and realized everyone deserved the same opportunity. And while we’re on that topic…

What is the opportunity that FlexTeam provides? FlexTeam provides clients with a scope of work with clear deliverables and pricing, after understanding clients’ needs. While defining the project with the client, we are identifying the best FlexTeam member(s) to do the work, so that we are able to get started on the project as soon as the client agrees to the work. Unlike a marketplace, the client does not select particular consultants, nor are FlexTeam members bidding on projects. FlexTeam’s matching algorithm select consultants for projects that align with their particular skills and past experiences. This allows FlexTeam members (who complete a rigorous onboarding process) to focus on challenging, interesting, and paid work.

Jumping ship from the traditional workforce to work for yourself (or become your own microentrepreneur) isn’t for everyone. But it’s a start. Let’s forget about the mythical work-life balance and aim for work-life fit. The world needs more options for people searching for work-life fit. Because we all deserve to find work-life fit.

Yolanda Lau is an experienced entrepreneurship consultant, advisor, and Forbes Contributor. She is also an educator, speaker, writer, and non-profit fundraiser.

Since 2010, she has been focused on preparing knowledge workers, educators, and students for the future of work.

Learn more about Yolanda here.

FlexTeam  is  a mission-based micro-consulting firm, co-founded by Yolanda Lau in 2015, that matches talented mid-career women with meaningful, challenging, temporally flexible, remote project-based work opportunities. FlexTeam’s clients are businesses of all sizes across all industries and sectors. FlexTeam’s most requested projects are competitor / market research, financial models, and investor decks. FlexTeam is also the team behind Liquid.