Do We Really Want It All?

I’m at my kitchen table watching my twin boys throw Cheerios at each other from their high chairs wondering what my next move is going to be professionally. There are several opportunities in front of me and just like so many moms I’m trying to figure out how I can have it all – the kids, the picket fence, the high powered job.

It’s possible to have it all. I know it is because I’ve watched countless women rise through the ranks in my lifetime and the message I’ve heard since I was a kid is that it’s possible for me to have everything my male counterparts have. But sometimes the sacrifice to get to the top is just so unreasonably extreme. Take Sheryl Sandberg for example. That’s not the kind of life most people want.

Now that I’m “here”, with two babies at home and the drive and opportunities to be a high powered professional I’m left wondering what I really want in life, what other women really want, and what that means for organizations moving forward.

Just when I needed it the most, while I was changing a diaper, drinking my coffee, and writing a training seminar all at once, I came across this great post by Anne-Marie Slaughter about how we really can’t have it all. Actually, she says we can but only if we have our babies when we’re 25, which I’m not, so we can launch our careers full blast at 45.

She says, “It is time for women in leadership positions to recognize that although we are still blazing trails and breaking ceilings, many of us are also reinforcing a falsehood: that “having it all” is, more than anything, a function of personal determination.”

The “personal determination” part is what resonates most with me because my entire life I’ve told myself that if I work hard and am determined enough then I too can have it all. But maybe it’s not about personal determination at all and more about making wise choices about the opportunities we’re taking, focusing on only what we’re most passionate about, and learning to say no to projects that fall outside that scope.

For me, it means consulting with organizations who are truly passionate about creating environments that foster passion, engagement, and self-motivation and passing on jobs where leaders want the quick fix.

So I’m going to go on a limb and say that we still want it all but that it’s okay to re-define what “all” means.

Marisa is a leadership coach, management trainer, and motivational speaker on all things Culture and Engagement.  She has helped lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.

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About Marisa

Marisa Keegan is a leadership coach, trainer, and HR consultant for quickly growing organizations who are passionate about strengthening their employees, their brand, and their culture. She has helped lead the HR, culture, and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. She is an author at Fistful of Talent and Culture Fanatics. Marisa has her Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology and currently lives with her husband and twin boys in Richmond, Virginia.
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2 Responses to Do We Really Want It All?

  1. Mel says:

    I agree so much that we have to find our personal all — that the all can’t be dictated by society but has to come internally. That we have to strive to reach our own personal ideals. And be realistic about what having it all actually feels like — is it really where people want to be?

  2. Mali says:

    I really like your perspective. (And thanks for the link to Sheryl Sandford’s speech, as I hadn’t seen that before.) And I have to say, the older I get, the more I look at people trying to “have it all” and thinking that by chasing the All they very much run the risk of not having any of it, or certainly not enjoying what they have. I just wish that we were prepared to look around – no matter what our life circumstances are – and decide what “all” means to us. And to know that if we feel fulfilled, and happy, then we do have it All, regardless of whether we are the COO of Facebook or the COO of the school run or bookclub or our own little blog.

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