February 8th, 2012

Forget balance, just say no

Yesterday morning, Heather McGregor aka Mrs. Moneypenny an FT columnist, was interviewed on CNBC’s Squawk Box about her new book Sharpen you Heels. Heather is a successful business woman and mother. She claims that there is no glass ceiling and to succeed, women should not be striving for balance. She posits that we must make choices, and more importantly, learn to say no. I have written a number of posts on searching for balance in my work and family life so as you can imagine, I was glued to the tv.

One of Squawk Box’s hosts pointed out that when a man is a CEO he is not asked how he balances fatherhood and work. Andrew Ross Sorkin, another host, commented that his wife is super-woman and he is awed by all that she accomplishes. Heather countered that women are hardwired to please and men to perform.

To succeed, Mrs. Moneypenny thinks women need to give up the goal of “having it all” or more to the point, taking everything on. Say no to the charity event to be with your family and move the parent/teacher mtg for a work commitment.

In her view, balance is overrated and we need to prioritize. And as Dr. McGregor wittily points out, it may sting like a leg waxing at first, but ultimately, we need to learn to say no.

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  • I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been saying no a lot more lately and it feels great.

    Lauren@StyleseerFebruary 8th, 2012  10:56 AM

  • The tv interview is completely fascinating. The idea of “saying no” is kind of a relief. Going to buy the book today!

    JenniferFebruary 8th, 2012  11:10 AM

  • It amazes me how much women do for their communities with no recognition. I completely agree that the ability to say “no” is as important as anything we learn in life.

    Elizabeth FoxFebruary 8th, 2012  11:47 AM

  • I do agree that saying no is essential, but along with that we have to be very clear about our priorities. The process of making a decision becomes a lot easier when you know that you will have family dinners together, but you will not attend the midweek games that are during work hours. There will always be exceptions, but they are exceptions not the rule. When men make those decisions they are judged as dedicated, but when women make the same decisions they are seen as not serious.

    It maybe the expression “having it all” that is a misnomer that makes us feel inadequate. “Having the best of both” is a far more freeing way of looking at the world. That shift gives us the ability to create our own lives instead of wishing they were different. When you choose your priorities you do so with confidence and that change in context is what people around you emulate.

    AdelineFebruary 8th, 2012  12:22 PM

  • My philosophy has been that I’ll have it all, but not at the same time. This has worked for me through a 32-year career, three daughters, major volunteer commitments, management of health/fitness and a pleasing home and garden. Right now, thank goodness the girls are all in college and it’s winter!

    eebFebruary 8th, 2012  12:41 PM

  • Interesting topic. Wanted to point out that in Europe the question of balance and being a CEO is questioned. My husband was recently at a CEO Summit in France and was surprised to hear this question in a public forum. The CEO questioned admitted he couldn’t balance it all without his wife.

    MarianneFebruary 8th, 2012  12:50 PM

  • In my career, I’ve found the biggest obstacle for women can be other women, unfortunately. Office politics are the worst, we should be helping each other out, not throwing one another under the bus to get ahead.

    MelissaFebruary 8th, 2012  1:13 PM

  • Learning to say “No” is difficult for those of us who work in the home as fulltime wives and mothers. It is assumed by everyone (especially “working” women) that SAHM’s have time for everything. Honestly the years in which I worked part-time outside the home were like a vacation compared to what my life is like as a fulltime wife, mother and volunteer. It was easier to say NO. I have learned to write my own job description and to set my own goals and standards for my life. It doesn’t matter to me if another person doesn’t value my organized home, the meals I prepare for my family, or the free time I deserve to work out and take care of myself. It’s more than saying NO. It’s learning to say YES to myself.

    KerriFebruary 8th, 2012  1:24 PM

  • Amen Kerri….

    mary bethFebruary 8th, 2012  7:19 PM

  • We all have to make choices, I don’t think women can have it all the way that most men in the corporate world can: 3 lovely kids, a lovely wife, a dog, and an organized home. What I chose: a hot man, one very lovely kid, and a career in the corporate world. Many men in my field (law practice) have 3 and 4 kids, most women I work with have 1 kid at best. People, it’s about choosing!

    TibiFebruary 8th, 2012  7:44 PM


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