I do not have it all. Texas congressional Representative Wendy Davis, despite the recent New York Times Magazine headline, “Can Wendy Davis Have it All?” is not about to have it all any time soon. Anne-Marie Slaughter said, in The Atlantic, that no woman, really, can have it all.
Even Sheryl Sandberg, self-appointed role model for moms who also have big jobs outside the home, does not have it all.
How do I know? Because no one ever has it all. The phrase “having it all,” which I gather used to represent some form of women’s empowerment, has been reduced to snarkery. To admit to having it all -- or wanting it all -- seems weirdly greedy. “Having it all” has come to invite judgment.
When The New York Times asked if Wendy Davis could have it all, they weren’t asking if she could have kids and a rocking career. She clearly does. They were asking if she could effectively campaign on her background as a single mom who once lived in a trailer park, even though her former partner handled the day-to-day childcare and paid Davis’ way through Harvard Law School.
The Times was asking, in essence, if Davis could have two seemingly mutually exclusive things, with the insinuation that it was okay for her to be a trailer park mom or a Harvard-trained lawyer, but not both. (As well-written as The New York Times story is, if you don’t think it reeks of misogynist claptrap, I beg you to read it again).
Happy New Year! We hope you had a fun and relaxing break with family and friends.
As always, the new year has us full of optimism, convinced that this time around, there really are 26 hours in the day and eight days in the week. To stay focused through all the hustle and craziness, we’ve got our annual list of New Year’s resolutions.
The only rule: When we’re tempted to adopt more than a few resolutions, we list them in rank order, cut the list in half, and throw out the second half. A few that we’re considering:
Do one thing this year that we didn't manage last year, and that we’re sort of bummed about. So what if this particular goal won’t advance our careers, improve the home decorating situation, or change the world? It’ll change our world – and that’s enough.
Ditch the frenemies. Life is too short to waste energy on people we think we’re supposed to like but actually dislike. It just makes sense to spend time with real friends and let everyone else go.
Go to the dentist. Twice. I am a certified dentist-phobe, so I make this resolution every year. I have to, or it won’t happen. Woody Guthrie had a similar resolution, back in 1942: Wash teeth, if any. Other “New Year’s Rulin’s” from Guthrie: Write a song a day. Read lots good books. Change socks. Don’t get lonesome. Stay glad. Make up your mind. Wake up and fight.
I love my kids. I really do. But when they left for college, leaving me with an empty nest, I didn't cry, mope or lament the silence in our house. I cheered.
It's not that I don't miss them, because I do -- sort of. I'm still in awe that I now walk into rooms that are exactly the way I left them. I'm happy they're starting another chapter in their lives, adventures I hope will be fun and fruitful. They know they can call on me to help them when needed, and I know I can track them down via text, email and/or video chat (yay technology!) when I need to reassure myself that all is well.
I see their departure as a new adventure for me and my husband, one in which we're readjusting to being a couple, with a whole lot less laundry to do. I probably should be worried that I'm not suffering even a twinge of empty nest syndrome, except that I'm too busy doing other stuff, like clearing out the junk drawer and working, finally, on my great American novel. But I know that not everyone feels the way I do. So I asked other moms and dads how they're dealing with their empty nests -- and if they're crying or cheering.
I’m as skeptical of self-help advice as anyone, which is one reason I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown. While some may call Brown’s books self-help, her work is grounded in 10 years of research. So when she says that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage, and that it’s the key to living wholeheartedly, I listen.
I got the chance to do that in person at Inc’s leadership conference in San Diego last week. Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, began by telling the audience about how, once her TEDx talk became suddenly popular, she started getting trolled online. I won’t repeat the terrible things written about her, but the experience drove her to eight straight hours of Downton Abbey, followed by some Googling about Theodore Roosevelt (she was wondering about the U.S. presidency during the Downton years). All of that led to a new way to look at criticism.
Here’s the Roosevelt quote that proved so influential:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
“That is who I want to be,” said Brown. “I want to be the courageous person. I want to be the person in the arena who is showing up.” She also realized that, “If you live your life in the arena, you are going to get your ass kicked. You can choose comfort or you can choose courage, but you cannot have both. Because courage and comfort do not co-exist.”
It's rare for any negotiation to be completely straightforward. But when you ask about the salary range for that new job, or how much time that volunteer work will take, how do you evaluate the answer? How do you know if someone is flat-out lying to you, if they're being coy, or if they're being honest? How can tell if, in the end, you're going to get what you want?
Using a twist on the ultimatum game, which is commonly used in psychological research, Lyn M. Van Swol and Michael Braun, of the University of Wisconsin, and Deepak Malhotra, of Harvard Business School, provide some answers to these questions. Their work was recently published in the journal Discourse Processes.
In the experiment, the participants were split into pairs, with one person in each pair given either $30 or $5. That person, called the allocator, then had to decide how much money to share with his or her partner. The allocator didn’t have to divulge how much money he or she was given. But if the partner refused the offer, the allocator would get nothing while the partner would get a quarter of the total (either $7.50 or $1.25).
About 70 percent of the allocators told their partners how much they'd been given, and then offered to split the money evenly. The remainder either lied or, in an effort to get a lowball offer taken seriously, wouldn't say how much they'd been given.
What set the liars apart?
Liars talked more. Each pair got up to two minutes in which to negotiate. On average, liars used about 70 words during that time. Honest people used just 42.
Liars used more swear words. In fact, they used five times more swear words than people who were telling the truth. The researchers say that's because the liars were busy keeping their story straight and couldn't also regulate their behavior at the same time. They might also have been getting defensive, and were verbally lashing out at their partners.
Liars used more third-person pronouns. Dramatically more. A liar was more likely to say, "They gave me $20" than "I got $20." The researchers say this is an attempt, on the part of liars, to distance themselves from the lie.
People who were trying to hide the truth, without actually lying, seemed to be trying to speak as little as possible. They used fewer words and shorter sentences.
It's possible for the partners in these scenarios to disrupt this dynamic. People who were telling the truth, but were paired with someone who was suspicious, ended up talking just as much as the liars and cursed more than the other truth-tellers, too.
For anyone on the "partner" side of the table, it's probably best to try to start with an open mind, and then try to notice if the other person seems to be running on at the mouth, cursing a lot, or avoiding responsibility. If so, you might want to ask yourself: Even if this negotiation appears to end well, do I really want to be in business with this person? --Kimberly Weisul
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