Is it possible to have a great career and still be a good wife, mom, and daughter? I’ve been asked that question many times, and I also have teenagers, so it’s a topic I’ve thought about a lot. My answer is “yes.” As someone who leads a 10,000+ person, global service organization, and who believes that family matters most, I’ve learned some important lessons about combining family and career.
First, there’s no substitute for hard work. My father formed my strong work ethic. Once he picked me up from work and asked, “Did you make any money for the company today?” My response was, “I just attended meetings today, Dad. I don’t think I made any money for the company.” He replied, “Then why did you bother going to work?” So he was tough, but he was also very proud of what I accomplished.
Second, get it done. Mark Hurd, who left NCR in 2005 to lead Hewlett-Packard, became my boss several years ago when I moved from a financial leadership role to a sales leadership role. Mark taught me the importance of delivering results. Too often in the business world, people revisit an issue a thousand times and, in the end, nothing happens. Mark taught me how to get stuff done and move on to the next task.
Third, your spouse or partner needs to be supportive. I have been very fortunate in this regard. There is a lot of pressure in the business world and your partner needs to have a strong ego because there is going to be conflict. If you have someone who is always whining that you are working too much, then it’s going to be tough on both of you.
Fourth, put something back. It can’t be all about the career or the money. It’s about helping others to be successful, whether that’s the employees who look to you for leadership or the people in your community.
Finally, enjoy the journey while it’s happening, because that’s all you get. Quit worrying about what will happen three years from now. Just put one foot in front of the other, and you’ll be able to get through the hard times and enjoy your life.