i was looking thru the october issue of essence today and came across a fashion layout featuring sisters in fabulous fall knits- all of whom are very successful in the corporate, publishing, entertainment and entrepreneurial arenas. as in most articles like this, i saw a photo of someone i've interacted with both personally and professionally. i happened to be visiting a colleague's office at the time and said (half under my breath, but evidently just loud enough to be heard) "how do these sisters get this recognition? at the height of my career, i didn't get that kind of publicity. how can i be down?" my friend interjected that these women simply do what i refuse to do, which is put the advancement of my career above all else - including (or in her words, especially) family.
this got me thinking - in order to be successful professionally, is it really necessary to put your career first at all costs in order to move up the ladder and get the recognition you deserve? whether it's in magazines, self-help books, television or radio, at women's conferences and business seminars, we're constantly told we can "have it all," but can we?
on the one hand, most professional women i know live very full lives. they have husbands, lovers, or partners and children and very active family lives and appear to simultaneously handle everything with finesse. on the other hand, i've also known women who put family first to the detriment, and sometimes the demise, of their careers. while still others have chosen to give up their careers entirely in order to raise their children and take care of their families. however, above all else, i know that as women we still work twice as hard to be taken half as serious for half the reward in the business world.
in spite of that, i don't think my friend had a clue. i like to believe that she was speaking more about her personal decisions - not to have children, not to remarry or build a relationship with someone new, not maintaining close relationships with her immediate family, to live/eat/sleep/breathe business - than actually making an informed comment. while i'm not trying to psychoanalyze her, i will say that our biggest misunderstandings have happened when she couldn't understand why i was (and remain) unwilling to drop everything for a client, or to be on call 24/7. or understand why taking my grandmother to a doctor's appointment and spending time with her was my most important "appointment" of the day when clearly there are other people in my family who can take the lead. why going to all my step kid's special events and spending bonding time with just the 2 of us is just as important as any business decisions that need to be made during the day. why spending time with my husband is as crucial as spending time building my business.
i won't lie, making time for all of that can be extremely tiring. some days, it takes all my strength to just get up and take on the day. but on other days, everything comes together effortlessly. sometimes i believe that "having it all" is more of a marketing slogan penned by companies selling "solutions" to problems that plague time-starved feminists and "women who do too much." so that brings me back to the initial question... is is necessary to put your career first at all costs to be what is considered "successful?" i like to think you can have both a great career and a great family life. in fact, it's the support i get from my family which gives me the strength to pursue the career. truth be told, i prefer "having most of it" to "having it all." while we may not have the ability to be all things to all people, we do have the ability to multitask. and most of the time, we manage to do it pretty well.
on a completely unrelated sidenote:
not sure if this is the last thing i'm going to post about the recall or not, but i have 2 things to say:
(1) statistics (polls, surveys, etc.) can be made to prove or disprove any point. just depends on who you ask.
(2) look at the source of the stats before you believe the bullshit they espouse.