I was talking to someone yesterday and I was asked the question yet again – how do you find the balance? Its quite often working mums ,and an occasional dad, who asks this question as they find themselves struggling to find the balance in building a successful career, looking after self and simultaneously creating a content family life.
Well my answer on this occasion, as always, is that I can’t.
I can’t find the balancing act if I try to do it all by myself. For me to have the ability to find the balance I have to rely on the village that goes into building me and providing me the stability to finding it.
They say that behind every successful man there’s a woman. All I can say to that is that men seem to have got themselves an incredible deal as behind every successful woman there is not only a man but a whole team.
The team members can be different people and sometimes even things (like a tennis racket in my case as you’ll see).
So, my team members are:
- My partner. He is a big help as he treats me as a human being, without compartmentalising me and my role in our relationship into that of a woman.He doesn’t expect me to ‘be the woman’ and doesn’t burden me with the traditional expectations of my role in our family unit. I try my best to be the woman as I quite like it but I don’t have to tow any lines of expectations. In return I don’t expect him to ‘man up’ on all occasions. We both try and work on our strengths and try to respect each other as much as possible within the confines of emotional ups and downs of a relationship as delicate and strong as that of a married couple.
- My work colleagues and staff. I rely a lot on their support. I’m the first one to admit that if not for an efficient staff, my best efforts will not yield any meaningful outcomes as most work will quickly become disorganised, less efficient and will loose longitudinal productivity. We are all very different personalities but we try to keep the focus on work and mutually agreed outcomes so that even if there are disagreements along the way, we keep the ultimate focus in view and not allow any disagreements become personal. Mutual respect, tolerance and regular evaluations of expected outcomes help to maintain a healthy relationship.
- My family and friends. These are people such as my parents, siblings and other people that I have emotional attachments with. These are people that I don’t interact with on daily basis but they are always there in the background, ready to lend a sympathetic ear or even an occasional hand when I need help. I make a conscious effort to be mindful of how much I ask from a relationship and try my best to give back in equal measure so that the emotional state of the relationship stays balanced and healthy so either sides don’t get drained from strains which are inevitable from time to time. In this rapidly shrinking world that is incredibly well connected by social media, we are actually becoming poorer in human connection. I use the social media as much as I need to but my focus stays on human connection and this is the section of my team where I put most efforts in maintaining it.
- My dog and tennis coach. Between the two of them, these guys make sure that I get 30-45 minutes of decent intensity exercise at least 4-5 times per week. Tennis is almost like meditation for me. I held a tennis racket for the first time in my life last year although I grew up on the staple diet of badminton as an Army kid but can now have a half decent game of tennis with my unforgiving coach who doesn’t care what kind of day I’ve had and always expects high standards from me on the court which needs undivided attention. My dog is not much more lenient either and expects her exercise no matter what my own circumstances are. Tired? Tough. Pick up the lead and let’s go. I have a whole heap of running and sniffing to do for the next 45 minutes so cut the slack please.
- Last but not the least – the integral part of my success story are the people I work most closely with – my patients. I have no qualms about bragging and saying that I’ve had the privilege of looking after some of the best personalities ever! My patients enrich my life experiences everyday. People constantly talk about their quest for good doctors. Well here’s a secret – doctors hope for good patients too. And I have had the incredible luck where every single patient I’ve interacted with has enriched me in some way. And some have touched my life at a much deeper level than they will ever realise and they’ve done so by making me work harder at finding solutions to there problems, challenging me to keep up-skilling myself to meet their health needs, reflecting on deeper issues in life to incorporate that into my medical training to manage health holistically.
I will not be able to have any conversation about being a success if not for any of these team members. Even if I am having a bad day or an endless moment of self doubt , one of my trusted team members is there to pick me up – sometimes knowingly but mostly without having any awareness of doing so. These beautiful moments have instilled the character trait of reciprocating and lending a helpful ear or a hand, saying kind words as you never know which word or gesture might end up impacting someone’s life significantly, or at least making their day easier.
How do you know if you’ve got the balance thing right? If you wake up with a light heart, decide to be the architect of your day, get ready to go to work with excitement and come home to smiling faces then definitely you’re doing something right and you have your team working just right.
Its no fun, and in fact not possible, to do it all by yourself. Get your team and make it work for you. But keep in mind that you’re part of other people’s teams too and have to pull your weight in making it work for them. I have the village working to make me a success but I am not the village. I am a part of the village, lending myself to others in the village and we all try to make it the best village ever!