What is Balance? - mental steadiness or emotional stability; state of equal distribution, calm behavior or judgment.
There it is again, the “B” word, only this time the “B” word stands for… BALANCE!! One of the tasks we, as self motivated, intelligent, productive and relentless professionals have the hardest time accomplishing, or better yet, talking about. This is one of those popular questions that successful business professionals are asked, whether they're at panel discussions, interviews, open forums or trade magazine interviews:
Question: "So how do you handle the Balance of your professional work with your social and personal Life?"
Answer: "Next question please." Or the other favorite, "I don’t balance, it just happens…."
If you think I’m being dramatic, I am. Nevertheless this crowd-pleasing question is probably the most difficult because it’s against the perfect, confident and determined way we run our professional lives. There are feelings and emotions we have to confront, like sacrifice, regret, compromise and uncertainty-issues way too complicated to articulate.
Picture this. You’re in the crowd, as I was some years ago, in front of this incredibly successful, polished, prominent leader who portrays a confident, professional, charismatic, engaging and memorizing presence. You know they have it all together; you have strived through your short career to emulate them. They have the stress of scares on their face and tension in their eyes from years of relentless work in the business, but they possess a deep burning fire inside that drives their daily quest for success and accomplishment. The focus returns to the crowd, and you say to yourself they must know the answer to this question and every other subject asked. They are “living the dream," for God's sake.
The crowd watches in childlike anticipation as though they are about to hear the secrets of life whispered from a parent’s lips to the innocence of youngsters. The anxious feeling builds as the tip-toeing around the topic begins. There is a nervous stutter, followed by a pause ending with prolonged grunts of… "UMMMMS OHHHHH Weeellllllllll!!!"
WTF, I think to myself, where is my answer? What happened to my Guru who will save me from ruining my marriage, or personal life that will ultimately hurt my family? Why can’t my idol, my hero, my leader, tell me the “what, when, where, how” to create a stable, emotional balance between work and home.
It took me years to figure this out!!! And guess what folks, you're not going to like my answer to the question. Here goes!!! “There is no perfect answer! There is no right or wrong! There is no quick fix!" This is reality, the mystery of life, our life, your life, anyone’s life, which is the variable of our existence, our individual fate and what we make of it. I have no magical answers, no white knight to sweep you up and save your day. You have to make those assumptions and understand what will work for you to make your own decision about HOW you will keep what is dear to you… OR loose it to the black hole of our profession. Yes, it's easier said then done? I’ve been working on this for 30 something years and I still don’t have the secrets that make it work. What I can tell you is what has worked for me in the hopes you see similarities in your life that you can identify with and start your own journey of success. Don’t get me wrong, I have had plenty of failure, plenty of disappointment, and plenty of regrets along the way. That’s why I can talk about what to try and attempt to generate a different result.
The reality of balance in most people's personal VS professional culinary life is they have a difficult time articulating with any logic or comfort what they have accepted as daily practice in their working lives. Looking at the roots of our profession, they stem from long hours, continuous education, research to improve, trade shows and symposiums, competitions, contests, social and physical networking. And most if not all of that is free time with no financial compensation. Now think- is your significant other into the same things? If NO is your response, then you spend more time away from your personal life to “better your career”.
So what’s the answer? Isn’t that what everyone wants? ANSWERS? Well, I have to tell you all, I can’t pave the path in gold or wave a magic wand to make your life perfect… You will have to just settle for is my mistakes, my bad decisions, my regrets and my ability to change it all because I didn’t want to loose my husband, my kids or my home. I also didn’t want to give up my passion and love for the industry knowing deep down that a part of me would have been lost. So I compromised: TO BE CONTINUED…….