David Brooks wrote a column for the New York Times titled "The Way We Live Now" about Sonia Sotomayor. He was sharing aspects of her background and life to help us understand the price that is paid in achieving success. As Brooks said, "she has been remarkably honest about the costs of her workaholism."
But there were a couple of paragraphs that reminded me of questions such as:
- What is a quality life?
- What defines success?
- When is enough–enough?
- Who will change the status quo if it is not the leaders within?
- Or perhaps all of us who are not willing to pay the price anymore?
Listen to Brooks describe the way we live now:
"This isn't the old story of a career woman trying to balance work and family. This is the story of pressures that affect men as well as women (men are just more likely to make fools of themselves in response, as the news of the last few years indicates). It's the story of people in a meritocracy that gets more purified and competitive by the year, with the time demands growing more and more insistent.
These profiles give an authentic glimpse of a stule of life that hasn't yet been captured by a novel or a movie–the subtle blend of high-achiever successes, trade-offs and deep commitments to others. In the profiles, you see the intoxicating lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity. You see the web of mentor-mentee relationships–the courtship between the young and the middle-aged, and then the tensions as the mentees break off on their own. You see the strains of a multicultural establishment, in which people try to preserve their ethnic heritage as they ascent into the ranks of the elite. You see the way peopel not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn't anticipate at first."
While this is the way we live now, the question is: Is this the way we want to continue living? What can leaders of organizations do about this situation? What can we do about our own situation?
Whenever I go to Caribou Coffee, I am reminded by their motto: Life is short. Stay awake for it.
How can we do that if we are just too busy–too busy for our family, too busy for our friends, too busy to do things that enrich our lives.
Jann's Note: Becoming a sage involves making intentional choices about time while realizing that life is short and we must live it to the fullest. But this includes caring about what is best for our families, communities, and the Earth. Elders have wisdom that needs to be heard.