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“having it all” – part 2

February 24, 2013

After talking about happiness in general, I want to get more specific around mentoring that I have done over the last 5 yrs. I’ll relay an anecdote:

A woman who’s 1-2 stages behind me career wise, with late elementary school age children starts agitating for a promotion up 1 level. Her assumption: ‘if moms like YOU can do it, if moms like a GM we know can do it, if another peer of yours with 4 children ages 6 to 18 can do it - I can do it too! Right?’

Maybe.

 Sheryl Sandberg claims

‘We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.

‘We internalise ….the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. 

A couple things here :  Sandberg has 2 Harvard degrees - already in an elite few. An Ivy league degree doesn’t mean” better than everyone else,” but some people simply are brighter & it’s clear when you interact with them  they have a charisma that will help them break through

Moving on – where the articles have it right

Sandberg’s estimated $500m fortune is made up of $420m in Facebook stock…She and husband David Goldberg,…  have an army of household help when dealing with their two children all gets a bit too much….she has use of the Facebook private jet.

What if you don’t have a $500m fortune, use of the corporate jet, and can’t hire the army of help mentioned above?

The Atlantic: Sandberg….: “The most important career decision you’re going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is.”….  

Lisa Jackson - EPA administrator poining to her husband:  “There’s my work-life balance.” I could never have had the career I have had without my husband…. Andy has spent more time with our sons than I have, not only on homework, but also on baseball, music lessons, photography, card games, and more

Both articles are consistent with what I see in the women my “mentee” pointed to as examples. I cataloged our respective life situations 

  • Two of our spouses don’t work, or at least don’t travel. Like Lisa Jackson’s husband, a spouse covers where mom can’t. Yet – when children want MOM and mom isn’t there…it’s hard.
  • One of us has a mother who provides “nanny” service. Local family is a blessing…Yet it has both freed her AND limited her growth opportunities due to location limitations
  • One has a full time nanny - her life goes upside down when the nanny calls in sick
  • One had no children
  • One has older highschool age kids – but that’s not a guarantee as it was a struggling highschool son that drove the events leading to the article “Why Women Still can’t have it all”

My mentee realized her next step is a consequential choice & not just her decision. Her husband, her children – she – have to be ok with tradeoffs, limitations and risks.

Tradeoffs and risks to what end?  If the accomplishments of every above-average person was so memorable across generations, would we have - or need – an Ancestry.com?

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