One of my greatest blessings is the legacy of hard work, family commitment and fun instilled by my parents and grandparents. Their actions, more than words, set the three powerful bedrock values that have guided me throughout my career.
If I’m honest, there are times when I curse that darn family work ethic, which causes me to redo work to meet my high standards and put in long hours. But in the end, I know putting forth my best effort and maintaining a disciplined focus on excellence gives me a leg up to success. It’s true that sometimes the lucky person wins, but more often it’s whoever puts in the time and effort.
My parents always had jobs when I was growing up. Although they put in long hours, I always knew our family was their priority. I have been a working mom my whole career, so I know the roller-coaster emotions that come from balancing career and family. There is no fail-safe way to avoid the trade-offs, but you can take steps to make the journey easier.
It’s important to have partners who can be a support network and help with both logistics and moral support. There have been times when my husband reminded me that missing a school event would not leave a lasting scar on the kids. Hearing that helped me get out the door to work.
It’s also important to have realistic expectations. You won’t be perfect and that’s OK. Learn from the times when it doesn’t go well, but don’t let guilt weigh you down. The best payoff, which you might have to wait decades to hear, is when your kids express pride in your accomplishments and thank you for the example you set. I hope my parents know I feel this way about them!
One of the best things about the example my parents and grandparents set was that they managed to work very hard, but always found time to have fun and invest in relationships. So often we hear retirees talk about the people and adventures that made their careers meaningful. While no job is fun all the time, interacting with fascinating people, learning new things and achieving success with others is fun. For me, being deliberate about absorbing this “good stuff” along the way helps maintain a healthy perspective.