EMC World 2009 – Day Three – WME Breakfast

On day three the conference has begun to take its toll.  Legs, feet, back, brain — all tired.  But this morning was energizing — a breakfast discussion with Natalie Corridan-Gregg and a panel of working mothers.  I’ll let others discuss the meatier parts of the breakfast, but I wanted to share some of what I took away from it.

I was unexpectedly moved by a few of the comments and questions from the audience.  Both came from women who were not (yet) parents.  One asked about how working mothers manage to balance the conflicting demands of parenting, working, and still finding time to maintain a relationship with their partners.  Another talked about never feeling like she was fully present anywhere, since the conflicting demands of 21st-century life were forcing her to constantly multitask.  I realized that while we were there to talk about the experience of being a working mother, the truth was that we are all working humans, and that finding boundaries and maintaining balance was a continuous challenge for all of us.

Of course, the stakes are higher for parents.  It’s not just our own lives we’re messing up!  But the truth is that we all deserve a balanced and meaningful life.  And as with advancing your career, finding that balance is fundamentally your own responsibility.  Just as many managers will happily control your every task if you give them that window, your company, your team, your co-workers will happily take over your every free moment if you open it up to them.  Creating, understanding, maintaining, and communicating those boundaries is one of the greatest challenges any of us face, and in working parents it’s perhaps the defining challenge of our lives.

I’m excited that the authors of the Working Mothers Experience book have forced this issue into the light and empowered all of us to have a better conversation about it.  It’s great that we were able to take an hour out of our busy EMC World schedules to start that conversation, and have it in front of our partners and customers.  It speaks volumes about the environment we all are working in, and is one of the reasons I’m proud of where I am right now.