After a long silence, I am back blogging. The silence was not because I had nothing to say, but simply because I got involved in a project that consumed any and all of my spare time — our daughter’s wedding!
Often, I speak on the theme of leadership and one of the most frequently asked questions is, “Did you have to sacrifice your family life in order to reach where you are today?” I always start out by saying, “I hope not,” and then complete the response by giving some mundane examples. I know in my heart that it is not a fair question.
It is not a fair question because I have had more flexibility during the early years of my career than allowed to others. Yes, I had to put in 60 and 80 hours of work weeks, but I had the luxury of setting my own schedule. I cannot recall ever having to make a choice that would have made me feel deprived of my family life.
Last year, when our daughter got engaged and the question of planning the wedding came up, I knew that my job would never allow me to be the one to plan it, even though I had planned her wedding many times in my imagination. You have to understand the complexity of Indian weddings in order to appreciate my hesitation. But when our daughter said that she wanted a traditional wedding, I knew that I had to find a way to plan it.
During the course of the year, my “what if” ideas made a complex project even more complicated. A typical discussion would go like this…
I would ask my husband, Suresh, “What if we were to have five horses in the groom’s procession?”
“Five? Why five? I have seen hundreds of weddings with one horse. What’s wrong with one horse?”
“Nothing, but, I want five. Five would be awesome.”
“If you know what you want, then why ask me?”
“Because I want you to want what I want.”
And next day, Suresh would call and arrange for five horses! In the end, it took one French château, two dance companies, three bands, four events, five horses, 21 desserts, 32 vendors, 105 henna hands, and 300 guests to make it just the way I wanted it. I stayed up many nights and lost a few pounds. But, the joy of giving our daughter the wedding of her dreams (perhaps, I should say the wedding of my dreams) was worth every sleepless night and every lost pound.
I had a lot of help in the planning of the wedding, but in the end, it was solely my responsibility. I got it done, and am most proud of the fact that I never canceled any university meetings or events – during the day or the evening – in order to plan the wedding.Next time, when someone asks me if I had to sacrifice my family life for my professional life, I will smile and say, “No, I could have, but did not.”
Please don’t sacrifice your family life. Don’t let go of the precious moments, because they will not return. Don’t skip those recitals or soccer trips. And most certainly, don’t miss weddings. Try…at least try your best.