The ads for Valentine’s Day gifts are reaching a peak this week. So what does that have to do with business leadership expertise? Well, for starts, one of the biggest issues we women struggle with daily; work life balance.
How do we juggle our relationships with our spouses, our partners, let alone kids and extended family and still get anything done at the office? Does the issue of balance belong in the woman’s in- box more than to her male counterpart? Are all the advances we have made in the past decades biting us in the rump? Can we have the both/and or is it always going to be an either/or?
Here are some thoughts to ponder about the underlying meaning of love and the journey to finding sustainability in intimate relationships. First, please note it is a myth to think we can separate who we are at home from who we are at work. Thus in our Total Leadership Connections program everyone has an opportunity to find the links between how we behave at home and how we behave at work. The theme is to explore the synthesis between individuality and connection and the patterns that tend to repeat and repeat and get in the way of real growth and creativity.
Think about romantic love for a moment. When did you first envision, like Cinderella that “someday your prince would arrive”? And once you gave yourself to the violins and roses of romance, how long did it last? Did you ever think about what happened to Cinderella when as princess she had a whole staff to lead, a whole castle to keep running smoothly? Did she become depressed, was she a capable leader or did the chairperson of her board, the queen get in the way of her success? What happened to you?
What the heck does “happily ever after” mean anyway?
Romantic love is a whole package; it includes ideals, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, family and cultural patterns. We have so many images thrown at us, contradictory ideas that have a hard time coexisting in our subconscious minds and we are often not even aware of what really drives us to accept or reject the “love of our life”.
We have automatic thoughts about what we should get out of a relationship. The women’s movement gave us a broader view of equality, however, with very few guidelines for negotiating how to balance the scales of fairness. Factor in the childhood view of how our parents related to each of as husbands, wives, and lovers and we have a complex stew on our hands.
I believe the real work of “power couples” is to create the safe space between what one can give to another and what one needs for self-development; individuality and collaboration.
Women in business have added a critical aspect to romantic love, to family life. The equation has changed, just look at the sitcoms from the fifties, just look at Mad Men. In the work of my company about pattern repetition and pattern awareness it becomes clear that we cannot tackle today’s relationships using old models; they no longer work.
Looking at romantic love honestly is a heroic journey. We need to address the magnetic energy and beauty of romance with the contradictions and illusions that live in our heads and hearts. This week of valentine cards, candy, and caring is a great time to think about what you are willing to give and what you hope to get.