This is a question that I’ve contemplated on the road to creating the life I want to capture through my story. I remember many years ago seeing, “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” the documentary about the life of movie producer Robert Evans. I was enraptured by it. At that point in my career, I was a studio executive on my quest to someday run a studio. I related to Robert Evans’ drive, passion and ambition toward his work. I saw myself in the same way. This excited me but also frightened me. When I saw all the trouble he had in relationships, I wondered if my quest would bring about the same loss. When a long relationship came to an end after a short marriage, I feared that it would. I also witnessed many other relationships around me in the business showing signs of struggle. In television series such as The Good Wife, Luther, Scandal, and the list goes on, we see characters juggling the balance of professional success and personal intimacy. In both fiction and in life, we can’t help but contemplate this question: Is it possible to have it all?
I recently became enthralled with the Danish series, Borgen. In it, you have a female Prime Minister. Clearly, she is in a very prominent and powerful role. When she starts the position, she has an amazing marriage with two kids. As the first season of the show progresses, our central character’s marriage deteriorates because of her choices with the job. I wondered: would her husband stand by her despite the enormous demands of her job? When she accepts the position, they talk about the fact that they agreed that one would take a lesser role professionally when the other had a more dominant position. I loved this negotiation – a true sign of the times. However, slowly, as the demands of the job begin to take over and our protagonist finds herself in escalating conflict with both sides of her life, she makes the choice to ask her husband to make a tremendous personal sacrifice for the sake of her job. This is the final blow. This show takes a very deep look into the idea of the choices that we make on our quest toward “having it all.” It is an excellent drama that I highly recommend. As I watched the finale of the first season, I couldn’t help but wonder: would the end result be the same if their roles were reversed?
Is our quest for professional success trumping our ability to be truly intimate and open to everything that comes with a relationship? I have come to find with my own professional success that it does come at a cost to my personal life. Currently, in my personal life, my mom is battling cancer. It has been a very emotional journey for our family. We are learning to find peace in the idea of our lives being turned upside down for an indefinite amount of time. I am finding that during this experience the character that I am playing in the story of my life has gone to a much deeper place as the plot of my life becomes more complex. It has made me think a lot about the choices that I’ve made and am making. When my marriage ended many years ago, I remember feeling totally betrayed by the emotional side of my life. So, I turned toward work for comfort. Work was safe. I became addicted to the sense of accomplishment and comforted by the external results. Since I had been mentored by some of the top people in the business, I knew that I had the tools to succeed. Then, when I lost my job after 15 years with the same company after having almost reached the pinnacle of my quest, I went through the same feelings of betrayal, only this time it was from my professional life. It all connected back to my quest to “have it all.” During my healing from both turning points, I began to evolve and change my idea about my quest. I didn’t want to have it all, I just wanted to find a balance of success in both sides of my life. So, I decided to open my own business versus going to work for someone else. I decided to build a brand that embodied both my personal and my professional views toward life so that I would not be in constant conflict. My quest to run a studio and “have it all” had changed. Now, I just wanted to learn to be in the moment and embrace the gifts that come with it.
In my new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success, I move through this journey of change. Through my recognition that my professional was trumping my personal life, I decided to create the second act of my life on my own terms so that I could allow room for both sides of my life. I am still learning how to be open to creating more intimacy in my personal life. With regards to my professional life, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. This is because I’ve let go of the idea of “having it all” and instead find much more solace in being in what is.