The Choice to Balance


Who cares and what does it have to do with your job search? Several clients have called, wanting to figure it out.

The call for balance used to be the province of women in the workplace.  “I’m expected to do it all”, some whispered. “I expect to do it all”, others proclaimed. And it still falls to many a woman with spouse, child, or children, to be the point person in charge of cleaning the hearth and the cook pots, preparing the meals, and managing the youngsters and the places they go when that’s where they need to be.

Now she’s making room for her male counterpart who says he needs and wants balance as well.

“Life is too short to live my life the way my dad lived his,” says the man I’ll name Dan. “He gave his all to make enough money for us to live comfortably, attend the right schools, and have the right experiences, so that we could do well, on our own and without him. He was prophetic. He died when my brothers were in their twenties and I was fifteen. I miss him and miss the memories that I don’t have of him. We didn’t go fishing, play ball, or shoot hoops together. I went with others instead of him, because he had to work, to “pay for all this, son, or you wouldn’t have it.”

We didn’t play Monopoly or Scrabble, checkers or chess. “What do you think, son, that I have time for that? Ask your brothers to play with you, so I can take a nap before I head back to work.”

What I would given to have known him better. To have known what he cared about besides making a life for us, so I’d know if I wanted to be the man he was or the man I wanted him to be.”

Dan wants a career that will enable him to be the father he wants his children to have.

How can a man without inherited wealth, power, or prestige give his family the time they deserve?

“I told my wife back when we were dating that I wanted to share my life with her and with the children that I hoped we would have together. That meant we’d probably not have a lot of what folks have with big salaries, big careers, and company demands that require 24/7 attention. I found the right life’s partner. She agreed that our time together was more important than time dedicated to work, and without each other.

“When we had kids, and we’ve had three, we let them know, through our actions, not our words, what mattered. We managed their expectations by being clear about our own. We were a family. We cared about each other. We built self esteem by holding each other accountable for the safety, security, and well-being of the other. We couldn’t guarantee happiness, we couldn’t shape personality as though it were clay, but we could love each other for the person he and she was, not who we were or wanted them to be.

 “I’ve told every boss I’ve had that my family was more important to me than my company. Only one challenged me with an imbalanced number of hours, and days, and obligations.  I pushed back, respectfully, and we worked it out.

“I’ve chosen to be an average but steady employee who’s received an average number of promotions and increases through the years.

“I’m OK with that. I’ve been a good dad, a good spouse, a responsible provider, and an honest person. My children are grown now, and they know who I am. That’s all I wanted from my dad, and all I wanted to give my children.”

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Joyce Richman ( has been specializing in executive and career coaching since she started her own practice in 1982. She works in a variety of environments including: higher education, manufacturing, sales, marketing, media, technology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, banking and finance, service, IT, and non-profit sectors. A member of the adjunct faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, Joyce is certified to administer a number of feedback and psychological instruments. Joyce has appeared regularly on WFMY-TV and is the career columnist for The Greensboro News & Record. She is the author of Roads, Routes and Ruts: A Guidebook to Career Success and co-author of Getting Your Kid Out of the House and Into a Job. A popular speaker, Richman conducts seminars and workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Her coaching profile can be found at