discretion, inspiration, leadership, life lessons, management, mindfulness, motivation, work life

Thoughtful Thursday

Oh Al I swear, you’re a genius!  Even before ‘multi-tasking’ became part of the social lexicon, you were decrying its effectiveness.  Good on you big guy, and lucky for the woman you were kissing in the car.  Better to pull over and focus.  A taboo idea I know – doing one thing at a time and getting it right.

When I was at the firm, he who juggled the most balls in the air without dropping any, won.  Yes, there were migraines, emotional short-circuits, missed anniversaries and birthdays – but man, could people juggle conference calls, client meetings, intra-office drama, toggling between dual monitors in their offices while checking Blackberries and texting on their iPhones.  Conversations – if that is what one chooses to call them – were stolen in the Starbucks line, or in fifteen minute intervals, or checked in a box.

You’re right – balls got dropped.  Perhaps not the ones that determine the size of a year-end bonus, and most assuredly not those that would compromise the zealous representation of one’s clients.

I spent a lot of time with people who had dropped the other stuff along the way – without thinking that the ramifications would be so profound.  The parent who routinely watched her daughter play in a sports tournament while emailing on her iPad and chairing a conference call and genuinely fretting because she and her child weren’t close; the husband who couldn’t reconcile the wonderful woman he had married with the raging, angry alcoholic she had become – for she had never shown any signs.  The affair that grew over time because neither person was ever home long enough for intimacy and friendship to grow roots there – though they insisted they tried.  They didn’t intend for this to happen.  The thrown blood clot that resulted from excessive time on planes and trains.  The pseudo-friendships that ended up defining one’s inner circle because there was no time to cultivate genuine loving relationships, and the resulting  isolation and loneliness that prompted yet another script for antidepressants.  The young associate who wept in my office upon discovering that this brass ring for which she had sacrificed much was not what she thought it would be and didn’t want to ride the carousel anymore – but for the enormous debt, mortgage and car payments.

No signs?  Really?

I didn’t judge it then, I’m not judging it now.  I do find the sincere disbelief…well, surprising.  We all struggle to do the right thing in the face of competing demands and increasing competition.  But what do you want to win?  And who are you kidding if you think that everything you are juggling has equal weight and heft, allowing you to balance it all equally?  The reality is that those weights change and morph according to time and circumstance.  Sacrifices will be made and balls will drop – that’s the reality.  There is also this inalienable truth – you have to decide what to focus on, what values you will only compromise so much and how to give the people you love the best of who you are.  Maybe you should focus on that kiss.


46 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday”

  1. Sage words, dear friend. Having experienced firsthand the “fallout” from the relentless race to the top, I can safely say that “focusing a bit more on that kiss” is the better course of action, at least for me. Thx for addressing the issue so cogently.

    1. I’m with you Lori – I will remember the kiss, far longer than I will remember the race. I don’t begrudge professional success – I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and how far behind the eight ball I was when I started. I just think it’s important to know when you have achieved enough to make you really proud of yourself without having sacrificed the people and pursuits that you value the most.

  2. This one is getting printed out and hung somewhere I can see it. I’ve been saying this for the last year or so to everyone that would listen, but you have said it so much better than I ever could. I’m also sending it to all of my kids. The earlier they hear these words the better! Thank you.

    1. Thank you for such a generous compliment!! I’m sure you have been equally passionate and eloquent – you’re just not giving yourself the credit. And I’m also sure people heard you..:-)

  3. I love this and am starting to learn it myself. Wise words for a thoughtful Thursday! 🙂 It is hard when you feel the pull of ambition…kind of torn between the heart and the mind. But I have been trying to let my heart win more and quiet the mind. Thanks for an important reminder.

    1. Ambition is seductive – and by no means am I suggesting that one not feel the personal pride of accomplishment. It’s awesome. It’s brilliance in my view is only dulled when one looks around and realizes that the pursuit of more, more, more can exacted a cost to dear to pay.

      1. Absolutely. 40 feels like a complicated age for making these decisions. I feel like I haave a lot of opportunities to do more and take on more responsibility, but I am trying to be very conscious about the big picture impact on the balance of my life and on the impact on my relationships. But sometimes I second guess my choices. I guess I might do that either way. Thanks for making me think!

  4. Yes, yes, yes. If folks could take the time to do genuine self-assessment before diving into the rat race, then outcomes would be so much better. The rat race is great if you are a rat. If you happen to be a rabbit, or a cat, though… you don’t belong there. I think I need a “find the right race” poster for my office…

    1. What a terrific idea – especially given the work you are doing with almost minted lawyers!! The more they understand the choices they may need to make (in some environments, like Big Law), the more prepared they will be…

    1. Lol – I actually looked at them and thought of these geeky little sandals I am ashamed to admit I put on the boys when they were toddlers. I quickly realized the errors of my ways!!

  5. You are always so full of intelligent and beautiful words. And while Einstein may have figured out the whole multi tasking thing years ahead of his time, he just might be lacking in the fashion sense area. Just a little bit. 🙂

  6. Heavy stuff Mimi, but so well put. The signs are there for sure but they become hard to see once we put those blinders on. Great post , excellent point! I will keep focusing on those kisses and hugs 🙂

  7. I will take the kiss ,the time with those I love, the magic in everyday over the brass ring we try and make fit on our finger.pretty much how I have lived my life . Great post Mimi.

    1. I love how you write ‘the brass ring we try and make fit on our finger’. So true – I’m very appreciative of the substantive life choices you have made Angus..truly.

  8. Oh man, I love that Albert Einstein quote! Who knew the man was such a romantic?!? I always liked the movie version of him in “IQ”…I had no idea it was true…!!! 🙂

  9. Al always looked at something with a questioning attitude of is it beneficial? I would have to agree with him, the kiss is infinitely more beneficial than the driving.

  10. I worked for fifteen years for a big famous media corporation. I sacrificed all my free time. I made a lot of money. But fifteen years was enough. I work for a small company now, in a much lesser position. I have my life back – and just in time to enjoy it.

    I think it was Lily Tomlin who said, “The trouble with the rat race is, that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”

    1. I love that Lily Tomlin quote and have used it in quite a few presentations. There is truth in all humor – and unquestionably her observation is pretty spot on..

  11. Spot on post! My generation is raised with belief, that we can achieve anything (i do not disagree totally). We believe that world is one big buffee for us, where we can choose anything we wish for. The only thing that nobody remembered to teach or we forgot to learn is, that every choise costs sacrifices, consequences, tears and sometimes everyone/everything we hold dear. For example, it is difficult balance, to have career and balance family with small children. I have figured out, that career requires sacrifices, the kind that I am willing to question, one by one. Many young women in 30’s, that I know are burnt out, depressed, living in anxiety, debt and fear. Many of them fear to even plan family (have kids) because they are afraid they will lose their high positions for what they have paid with long university degrees and really hard work to achieve. Now, some of them stand and stare at that high position they hold, with 250 travelling days a year and feel paralized. What next? Is that life? Some of them have given their whole life to career. Not gladly. They suffer. They feel it is not possible to change their choises. Maybe they are afraid of the unknown. I am not judging at all. It is just really sad, how disconnected we are from what we really want. Not the fake expectations of ours, our family’s or society. I think we fail to find out what we really want from life, because we never sit down, quietly and never actually question the choises/decisions we take. We just live on autopilot, until red light starts blinking. Until it hurts and it is too painful to change our ways. I am done with my master degree (I am studying economics& business administration) next year and I am glad I got kids, while still studying. After serious serious experiemce with stress, I do believe I have strong feeling about “which shoes fit my feet” and what I will not even consider to try on. I want to make a difference, contribute, work hard, like what I do, have fun, be with my kids(not shower them with gifts because I am guilty of not being with them) , drink red wine with my husband on a regular Monday, see my friends (without planning for 45 min for it 2 months prior the meeting), have time to read books, write and just be. Really not sure, if that means career in corporate world. This is such though provoking post for me! Thanks for making me (re)think about it. Btw, love the balloon design. 😀

    1. I’m so glad you like the design – I wish I could take some credit for it, but I tried it by accident, and just decided to keep it for a while and see if it grows on me (it is)..I think these questions you pose have to be asked, as I discuss these very same issues with my sons and daughters-in-law. One can have it all – with the caveat that ‘all’ doesn’t happen all at once, and certain priorities (like children and spouses) should never have to pay the price for our choices..

  12. Wonderful post as usual from you, Mimi. I wonder if one dirty little secret from the rat race is that we often think that the other rats have it all figured out, and we just have to run the maze a little faster. You know…the sizing up of “She works fourteen hour days, runs marathons and is a gourmet cook- why am I an underachiever?” My hunch is that if we stopped measuring our capabilities against mirages that really don’t exist, but instead measured our efforts to get a little better every day, we’d radically increase the happiness in the world.

    1. I agree with you Susan…my mom used to say that ‘you never know someone’s life unless you sleep under their bed’…That gourmet cook who works fourteen hours a day and collapses in tears at the end of the day because she has expended every ounce of energy she has perhaps without spending one minute on that which is emotionally essential for her well-being. Smiles hide a lot – especially when people don’t really look to gauge its sincerity, you know? Dumb question – of course you do! 🙂

  13. I’m not sure if I am offended or complimented that Einstein and I wear matching sandals. I choose complimented. Maybe he had the same taste in handbags, too… ;). And I love the post. Stellar as always!

  14. Terrific post Mimi. Running out of adjectives. (And since I can’t use “very”, I’m like a fish out of water.) Have me thinking…and concluded that it’s all a fine balance.

    1. Good for you David!! That means that you’re in a good place and no longer feel the need to make yourself nutso with crazy self-talk, right? Right? Lol…ok, me neither..

  15. A quote from my very favorite buxom blonde songbird Dolly Parton…

    “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

    She ain’t dumb. And this post Rocks! As do you…and GREAT choice on the music!

    1. I was sure you were going to say your favorite busty blonde singer was me – then I realize that I wouldn’t call myself buxom, I’d call myself gravity-deprived and you’ve never heard me sing – and if you did, it would still justify Dolly being at the top of your list. And you’re right Rhonda – she is one smart cookie..Thanks for liking the post as always…She may top the busty songstress list, but you are the rock star! xox

  16. The price of the “brass ring” –laid out so practically. Even those of us outside corporate America can see personal applications! Once again, Thank You.

    1. Hi Carrie – absolutely true..The examples provided are stark and extreme yet in our personal lives we find ourselves in the same place at times too..hugs, m

  17. Brass rings, balls and juggling is this post about the ciricus oh no no juggling you said judging but silly ole me read juggling and thought of the circus, that said life is like a circus at times when we thing about all the clowns we come across in our day to day life………..now this may come as a surprise but I have never ever visited the circus poor old me not that I am old but ok my age has nothing to do with the price of eggs in butcher shop………..I have forgot what I was writting about and my daughter wants to leave so I will end this here

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