Leading the way... the Mary Kay way...

Balance: a discipline rather than a destination, by Jeff McPheeters

[this was written seven or eight years ago, I believe, for one of our newsletters, perhaps. I think it still may serve to offer this husband’s perpective on his wife’s Mary Kay career as well as to give husbands recently exposed to this Mary Kay business a longer view from one who has been an active observer for 20 years.]

"In the early stages of the new millenium everyone is busy, busy, busy. Despite time saving gadgets, fast food, flextime jobs, few of us feel we have enough time to do everything we want.Most of us are caught in the out-of-balance trap. What are the symptoms of being out of balance? Poor health, relationship problems or making a good income without accumulating wealth may be warning signs.We give lip service to having balance in our lives. Yet, some of us work 60 or more hours per week, including weekends, and do not understand why our relationships are not working. Others earn an above-average income and have very little to show for it after many years of working. Still others have professional success, and yet their health is poor." ~Richard Geno, August 2002 issue of Advisor Today magazine and founder of The Socratic Coach and creator of The Balanced Life Program.



That opening segue into an excellent article by Mr. Geno caught my attention. The very day I was reading Richard’s article, Priscilla asked me what I thought of her work style and whether I felt she worked MORE than she did when she was a new director. She went on to mention a conversation she shared with another fairly new director whose very supportive husband had legitimate concerns as to the amount of time his wife was devoting to Mary Kay and whether it was due to the recent promotion or if this was the way it was always going to be.

I had to think about it awhile. There are a lot of issues here to deal with, and “balance” for one person is not the same for another person. Mr. Geno says that having it all brings great challenges but the rewards are worth it. Here are his basic rules for “having it all:”
--Determine what matters to you.
--Define success in all facets of your life.
--find ways to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
--Take responsibility for your life.
--Accept that everything happens for a good reason.
Bringing it closer to home...Mary Kay’s excellent book, “You Can Have It All” is one I highly recommend to new directors as well as husbands if they have not read it.

But aside from what the experts have written and discussed at length, the topic of balance continues to be one that comes up often in our Mary Kay world and one that is not easily quantified.

Here are just three observations from my limited experience:

First, balance is not a destination, at least not in this life. It could be described as a process or part of the journey of success, but I think of it as a “discipline” and one that must be constantly worked at.

We have a large grandfather clock in our home. We’ve had it since before the children were born, and in all that time it has had the glass door locked with the key kept out of reach of little hands. I, alone, wind that clock. Why? How long do you think the pendulum would stay in balance if a two year old could access the swinging brass pendulum any time they wanted?

Well, your life, your business, your relationships do not exist behind locked glass doors. They are exposed to all sorts of knocks and hazards that force us to constantly re-group and re-adjust our lives. It could be a two year old that’s affecting your ‘balance!’ If we have not defined success in ALL areas of our lives, we won’t be able to re-group or re-adjust very quickly or accurately. Knowing what our priorities are, the needs and goals of our loved ones, and what our shared goals are will allow us to make the regular adjustments with a minimum amount of stress and worry.

Second, these adverse experiences are a necessary part of what makes life fulfilling! By learning from adversity and overcoming challenges you create a fulfilling and truly rewarding life. The challenges are the necessary ingredients that cause you to learn and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to attain your goals in each and every area of your life.

A sick family member, a spouses career requirements, a major financial obligation; all are challenges that appear to adversely affect your immediate and sometimes long range goals in one or more areas of your life. And yet they are the “stuff” that makes true success rewarding enough to encourage and inspire and motivate others to new heights ...IF we respond to them as they are meant to be responded to. What truly inspires others, and in the long run, makes our own success truly rewarding, is not the achievement alone; but the achievement in light of the challenges that were overcome and the manor in which we overcame them.

Take responsibility for your life and make it a learning experience!

Third, although YOU are ultimately responsible for the decisions you make and it is YOUR life we seem to be talking about, Mary Kay understood a very critical principle that would make a career in Mary Kay something unique in the world of business: The Golden Rule which can be summed up as “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Think about that for a moment. How can that influence the way we deal with adversity and challenges when faced responsibly, whether with a customer, a fellow director, or a spouse, child, or the stranger just behind you in the check-out line? I don’t think that we can over estimate how critical that principle is when determining a proper response to challenges in our life.

So do you want to be successful in your Mary Kay and in every other area of your life from this point forward? Then accept that it will be a challenge — a great and worthy challenge! It’s not a question of whether you will experience challenges, but how you will handle these events. Will you learn from them? Will you grow from them? Are there lessons here that can help you avoid problems in the future? Could they make you a better business leader, a better wife, and a better mother for the future? You bet!

By the way, I told Priscilla that she has a great sense of balance in her work. There’s no question that she’s committed to her business and treats it with the respect it is due. But honestly, it doesn’t seem like she really works all that much. I think 40 hours per week apart from key travel time is about her pace. However, when I was working outside the home managing a construction company I worked 60+ hours per week and it was more stressful meshing my work schedule with Priscilla’s along with the boys’ activities. So again, each person/family is going to have to puzzle this out for themselves. Just use the guidelines above and it will be a more productive exercise.

Couple of postscripts:

Priscilla wanted me to also share a couple of observations I had made when she first approached me about this whole idea. From a husband’s perspective, especially with a fairly new Director, it can seem like the job of directorship requires a lot of his wife’s energies and time. It’s only natural to wonder what it will be like as his wife moves up the ladder of success! But I think Directorship for a new director is not unlike learning to drive for the first time. During the initial weeks and months when learning and even after obtaining a drivers license, the new driver must concentrate much more on nearly every aspect of driving; and well they should. But over time, the various skills and techniques associated with being a good and safe driver become second nature and driving then becomes fun and much less stressful. My advice to husbands is to encourage their wife to build her unit quickly to 50 and beyond and they will soon find the initial stress from being around a “new driver” is replaced with a more relaxed and enthusiastic partner with energy to spare and direct toward family and social activities.

In addition, many husbands are aware that as one moves up the ladder of success in most corporate situations, the job description changes drastically with each promotion, as do the requirements and level of time and energy commitments. But not so in Mary Kay. Once a consultant, always a consultant. In Mary Kay, the most significant and visible promotions are to Director and then to National Sales Director. There are many important steps in between, but bottom line: each one comes with more perks while not significantly changing the work requirements! Directing a unit of 100 is easier than directing a unit of 30. There’s no question about this. Also, an Executive Senior Sales Director with 5 or more spin-off directors has an easier job earning a larger income than a Sales Director without a spin-off. And the job description doesn’t change, but actually becomes more focused AND more rewarding personally as well as financially. The key is that what really changes is the level of leadership and the associated challenges that come with it; leading people, particularly other and future leaders, is a tremendous challenge, but one that’s truly invigorating and life-building!

So my advice to husbands is to support and encourage their wife to become as successful as she is capable with the skills she can learn and acquire at whatever place she finds herself, and the next level beyond will become even more accessible and will be more exciting and fulfilling to work toward. Once a director experiences some of this growth and success beyond the initial promotion to Directorship — earning a car; unit club recognitions; spinning off directors; etc. -- she begins to blossom as her confidence as a leader grows! Believe me, the benefits from that point onward definitely overflow into every other area of her life, and her family will be the chief recipient of those benefits!
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