Women in Business Series: Find Harmony beyond Balance
Can women really have it all?
Back in the 70’s, a television commercial about Enjoli perfume was launched with the catch phrase, “the 8 hour perfume for the 24-hour woman.” It was indeed a heady time for us ladies in that an unlimited world of opportunity awaited any woman who had the gumption to seize the day.
After all, and as the commercial’s catchy jingle proclaims, we can do everything from putting the wash on the line, feed the kids, get dressed and still get to work by five to nine. Let’s not forget about our ability to bring home the bacon as well!
The real question is whether or not we bought into the ‘have it all‘ mantra at the expense of our own well-being, especially since it is not an issue with which men in the business world have to deal.
Simply put, having it all is all about perspectives.
I personally see myself as having it all but I do not put pressure on myself to have it at the same time. Life presents many challenges so I may have to give more to my personal life and work may need to be less of a priority. There will also be times when I may need to reverse priorities. In truth, having it all requires us to redefine success on a continual and collective or big picture basis that consists of interchangeable or shifting objectives.
In addition, as women, we need to understand that if having it all means perfection; i.e. everything has to be working 100 percent at the same time, we will never feel contented. This is why achieving harmony as opposed to finding balance should be the standard by which we judge success. Harmony, as defined in a 2010 article by Robert Driscoll, is being in a state that represents “an order or congruity of parts to their whole or to one another.”
Putting things in perspective, laying the foundation for future successes and seeking harmony are mindsets that can make females feel successful and not defeated.
Conversely, trying to have it all or being the 24-hour woman makes no sense if everything has to check in at the same time.
Perhaps we need to learn some lessons from men in this area. Men measure success by more than one criterion. Business success is different than personal success. Playing a lousy game of golf does not define the individual.
The fact is that women need to redefine what can be possible and stop playing the Superwoman Role. For years I believed I could have it all using the Superwoman model as my guide. The irony is that even when it felt that I had reached my ambitious goals, I was often too exhausted to celebrate my successes. We need to question the price we pay for aspiring to achieve our goals and if it is worth the investment.
In this context, replacing balance with “harmony,” failure with “learning,” and imperfections with ”courage to accept what is” should serve as our ultimate guide.
Or to put it more succinctly – now is the time to stop being the 24-hour woman and get a good 8-hours night sleep.