Monday, February 16, 2015

Having It All - A Myth or Obtainable Reality

Later this month new literature, The Art of Having It All: A Woman's Guide to Unlimited Abundance, will be adding to the Having It All debate. And from its dust jacket, I'm realistic that this will be just one more source exhorting women of the evils of choosing parenthood over a path to an executive office.

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How do you manage to "have it all"?

Why is Having It All so enticing? Because no one wants to have to chose. We all want to believe everything and anything is possible. What follows are my thoughts on whether Having It All is a myth or an obtainable reality.

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Everywhere you look someone is either saying as women we can have it all (if we freeze our eggs) or we can't. Like Ann-Marie Slaughter, Pepsico CEO, Indra K. Nooyi doesn't think women can have it all: "we pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all."

"Maybe the solution to 'having it all' is not to assume defeat before you've even figured out what victory looks like. (Source: Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post)."

Or like Ms. Nooyi recommends "you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents."

But whether you actually want to have it all seems all but assumed. Of course you do. What type of role model would you be for future generations of women, including your own daughters, if you didn't?

Not striving for it all, especially when one has college degrees including an MBA, seems unthinkable. A waste of talent.

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Judgements are everywhere. From the dust jacket of Christy Whitman's soon-to-be published, THE ART OF HAVING IT ALL: A Woman's Guide To Unlimited Abundance (*affiliate link) "Not only is it possible for a woman to create everything she desires in every aspect of her life, but to settle for anything less is to deprive her of the exhilaration, joy, expansion and freedom of becoming all that she is capable of being."

Anyone else planning on adding another self-help book to their bookshelves (iPad, Kindle, or Nook) later this month? I know I'm curious how Ms. Whitman defines "it" and "all."

My guess is "it" and "all" aren't one-size-fits-all. Their definitions involve learning the fine art of juggling.

As Penelope Trunk would say, "Productivity [having it all] is about priorities. And if you’re not doing what you want to be doing it’s because something else is more important." So I'm curious, what Ms. Whitman eliminated in her definitions. If she, like Sheryl Sandberg, prioritizes career over family: "staying home to raise one’s children really isn’t that “important” after all, or certainly not more important than making it to the top of corporate America."

How do you define "it"? What's your definition of "all"?

For me, having it all involves juggling, not balance. I prefer the juggling metaphor because you change props as you need, adding more as schedules permit and reducing the number as the danger increases, blades versus balls, or bringing in a partner or two, delegating tasks.

I value the experiences of Ms. Slaughter and Ms. Nooyi, both having juggled demands of parenting little ones through teenagers with the demands of their career. But, I'm hoping Ms. Whitman has a strategy that unlike Ms. Sandberg's doesn't prioritize work to the exclusion of family.

While I hope, I'm doubtful. Especially given the origin of "having it all." Somewhere we accepted 'a puffed-up corporate come-on, one that made [Helen Gurley] Brown herself chafe more than 30 years ago, and twisted it in the collective memory into a false promise of feminism." But, given this false promise, I'm more determined to define success for myself and on my own terms.

genuinely eden

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. I have pre-ordered the book mentioned above. All opinions presented are my own.