In my daily scroll through Apple News, I felt compelled to click on the latest articles about The Duke and Duchess of Sussex planning to take a break from their royal duties in mid-November to take some much needed time for mental self-care in this (exceptionally) stressful season they’ve found themselves in…which I’m sure 99% of us can relate to wanting to take. And for the haters that question it because of their status or residence-size, I think they’re being terribly short-sighted. Life is hard. People are mean. I sure don’t think Royal life is some piece of cake. There is no house big enough, jewels sparkly enough, or wardrobe fancy enough to want to take on the pressures I’m sure they face every single day. N-O-P-E.
What really struck me was the clip of the Duchess thanking the interviewer for even asking if she was ok, noting that not many people have asked her that. And it broke my heart because I could relate. There are a lot of us in corporate positions with seemingly awesome lives thanks to the sham of social media, but we also have incredibly challenging expectations, to-do lists, private demands, maybe health struggles, and pressures of high-reaching pursuits. And in her current position as new mom to boot, friends, that’s off the charts.
If I may somewhat-digress for one moment, the first year of motherhood, in particular, is no joke – and working moms take things to a completely different level of bad-ass and amaze-balls. That is a badge of honor I hold proudly for hauling a breast pump all over Manhattan for a year, for wallpapering my office glass with giant Post-its and praying it didn’t lose its stick as I looked over a sea of 50 20-something employees outside my door all while pumping and taking conference calls yet trying to calm my body enough in the midst of all this to even let the milk out (sorry, TMI?) And this is just one example of those extra “joys” on your plate as a new, working mom. So, to all the working mothers out there…I see you, I know how hard it is to balance it all, and I have virtual hands on your back. For the working dads, thank you for doing your part too; getting home and cover bases, to cook dinner for the family, to clean the dishes. Parenting is most definitely a team sport and being there for your teammates emotionally and physically is critical to survival.
With that said, for moms, dads, singles, and really anyone else out there no matter what’s on your plate – I hope that you’ll consider taking time to ask someone, “Are you OK?” Because maybe they’re great, but I’d bet that 9 times out of 10 they’ve been dying for someone to ask them that with a real, authentic gaze of interest. A simple conversation can go so far to give people the boost of hope, or even the opportunity to just let some shit out especially when their plate is more than full.
From my perspective, that’s what mental wellbeing in business and in life is all about. We just happened to live in one big ass village now. And we have to take care of each other because together all boats will rise. We aren’t robots. We aren’t indestructible. Let’s stop pretending that we are.
Before I wrap this up I’d like to humble brag just one last quick story that happens to be about my husband. As context, Sean has a tremendous gift for gab. He’s also a pretty intuitive and sensitive guy who can generally read a room pretty well. And those two attributes combined have really contributed to his high-EQ. He changed jobs last Spring after a 14-year run at his previous employer and I happened to have a conversation with a former colleague of his just a few weeks ago who was very kind to mention to me, “You know what we miss most about Sean? His compassion. He truly knew how to lead with compassion.” And there it is. I have always been so proud of his achievements, but it’s the humanity he displays to the people around him that I’m most proud of and what drives the most impact. He’s a good leader because he’s a good man who cares. And these days, that’s more than half the battle.
So, before you leave the office today, especially if it is starting to get late in the evening and you see others still stuck at their desks – stop by and simply ask, “Hey, are you ok?” And be sincere and “Well-Intended” in letting them be heard whether you have the perfect solution or not. Just ask the question. It will do good for your soul, your wellness, and your leadership prowess.
Great post! I too was touched by the same interview and that all important question, “ are you okay?” Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs and I can’t imagine how it would feel to do it in the spotlight? Loved your pumping at work stories! You are a warrior – good for you!