So I had breakfast with Mark Bouris last month. No biggie. He’s only the thinking the woman’s poster boy with a presence that heats up a room the moment he walks in. Articulate, charming, incredibly handsome, humble, powerful and success in spades. And he’s funny. He may well be my soul mate and having breakfast with him was certainly a highlight of my year so far.
I laughed and listened and learned and flirted outrageously. Tilting my head to the side when he looked at me and flicking my hair as I nodded to let him know that I ‘got’ him. There were moments that I felt we connected on a subliminal level… if only I could be sure that he was actually looking at me and not one of the other 350 women in the room
But of course he was.
And it was when he was looking only at me that I took in the message that he was trying to make me understand. Greed is good. No, wait… that wasn’t him. The message, I think, was that if you want to be a full-blown, screaming success that there is no easy way to do it. It involves LOTS of hours of work. If you want the top job then you need to be prepared to work the hours that the position dictates. This is very important [because he said it multiple times]. He said, he doesn’t choose the hours he needs to work. His position, or the job, does. His position at the head of a global empire dictates that he works approximately 16 hours per day. He said if you want to only work 8 hours a day, you need to find a job that allows for that. And I nodded. Emphatically. Because it makes so much sense. Everything he said made sense. His observation that there are three virtues required to succeed 1) Empathy, 2) Work Ethic – broken into 3 parts – endurance, fortitude, courage and 3) Accountability. Yes, yes and yes!! So much sense. And then his further observation that women have all these in spades, largely due to our inherent ability of being mindful. I was practically fist pumping the air as I bought into it all. I’m a hard worker. I’m empathetic. I’m courageous and strong and can endure. I own my failures as earnestly as I do my successes. My mind wandered as I imagined running my own global empire. Or at least a local empire. And then the penny dropped.
I’m a mother.
So how the fuck does this apply to me? In my 24 hour day, where can I find 16 hours to work in my, albeit imaginary, high-powered role? I have 6 hours a day without the kids while they’re at school. For me to work 16 hours, someone else would need to look after my kids. And cook for them. And attend their school meetings and performances... and so on.
How can I lean in when they’re leaning on me?
I’m not complaining. I chose to have children and I chose to forfeit my career to raise them. I am happy with the choice I made. I’m just pissed off at the constant implication that women can have it all and I’m pissed off at what ‘having it all’ is supposed to be.
For me, I think ‘having it all’ means having choices. And it means knowing what will fill your cup.
When I was younger and kicking around with my best friend we used to laugh at how different we were, though exactly the same. As is usually the case with your bestie. We loved all the same stuff and admired all the same great leaders. It’s just that I would fantasise about marrying them and she would fantasise about being them. Before we even understood what that meant, our hearts were hinting at what they desired. And my heart’s desire is to be a mum. That’s the job that has filled my cup for the past 9 years. And the hours that job dictates cannot be contained in a 40 hour work week. Or even an 80 hour work week.
So I guess I won’t be applying for the next season of The Apprentice… or running a global empire any time soon.
Though I’d give it a go just for the opportunity to be fired…