Must it all be either less or more,
Either plain or grand?
Is it always “or?”
Is it never “and?”
Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods
I heard these lyrics and thought how apt they are for leadership lessons.
For years, the buzz phrase in women’s leadership circles was “Work – Life Balance.”
I can’t even utter the words without cracking up now.
There is no balance. But there can be BOTH.
Or is often the enemy of progress or passion.
What if companies asked, I can make money or I can give back to my community, instead of I can make money and I can give back to my community.
What if women asked, I can have a successful career or I can raise a happy family, instead of I can have a successful career and I can raise a happy family.
What if dreamers asked, I can have a job that pays the bills or I can follow my dreams and write/act/ sculpt/cook, instead of I can have a job that pays the bills and I can follow my dreams and write/act/ sculpt/cook.
Saying and opens doors. Saying and allows you to do things you love while you function as a responsible adult. Saying and allows you lead effectively by example.
No one should think saying and means you do the things on both sides of the and equation perfectly. But heck, even if you chose or your choices wouldn’t always be perfect.
What does and mean? It means having a good handle on your priorities.
If you add too many ands to the equation, then all of them take a turn for the worse. For me, that means if I want to take speaking engagements and write another book, then I have to make sure each yes response specifically furthers that goal because I do have two more BIG ands : my family (at the beginning of my and sentence) and my work.
If I had said or it would have looked like, I can have a husband and three kids OR I can have a successful legal career OR I can speak and write professionally. Ugh! Think how much I would miss out on if I chose or over and!
So next time you’re confronted with an and versus an or, don’t be afraid of choosing AND!
Artwork by Susanne Vincent