The Price of Saying 'No' at Work

I recently read an article from oprah.com, “Saying No at Work” by Suzy Welch. It was very interesting as I have held a professional position for 30 years now.

I am at the stage in my life when taking an assessment of my life would be appropriate. It brings to mind choices I have made regarding my career and my personal life. Like most, I suspect, I can deposit weight on both the ‘hit’ and ‘miss’ sides of the scales.

Ms. Welch spoke to three high-level female executives about their choices that brought them to their current life positions. The last one who is a CEO of a consulting firm had this to say:
“To get where I am,” she said, “I have given up so much. My job has inflicted untold brutality on my marriage. Untold brutality on my life. I will not start saying no and take the hit in my career, too. The price I’ve paid is already high enough.”

The price she paid was too high for me. As I considered my own choices I realized that I could identify a defining moment when I chose my family over my career. I was at a point where in order to move up I would have to go back to school for a graduate degree, while I was still working 40+ hours/week. My children were 16,16, and 7. My marriage was already in trouble…the ‘usual’ things when couples spend too much time juggling ‘stuff’ and do not prioritize time for each other and God into the equation. I looked at a picture of my family on my desk and made my decision. I would not be going back to school. I do not regret that decision as in less than a year I was divorced and I was in a place to be there for my children. The CEO noted above uses words like “brutality” – twice. Hmmm. I wonder if the success of her career has made a big enough band-aid on her wounds to decrease the pain – yet.

So for all you 20- and 30-something’s out there who are making life choices, I encourage you to read this article and consider what price you are willing to pay for success.

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