This Labor Day weekend I celebrated 20 years of marriage; Sept 6, 1998, is the official day. Twenty years, frankly, is child’s play in the “big milestone” category, but I’m proud for having hit it nonetheless. Looking back on your many years together adds to your perspective. What was most fascinating to me as I mentally took stock of twenty years, is how much the work you do — that is the jobs you seek and take — tests and forms you as a couple. And I do mean test — for better and for worse. But I don’t mean just in marriage. This post is not so much about weddings or marriage as it is about a partnership, in all the forms that can take, and the role that plays in your work successes or failures.
“I take you… to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
This list only scratches the surface of everything a couple faces in a lifetime, especially as it relates to their careers. It feels like right after that ‘sickness and health’ part, it should include: “through good and bad bosses, during promotions and lateral moves, from relocations to layoffs, as long as you both shall live.” Reciting that list would really give you a better sense of what’s to come.
It’s impossible to anticipate everything you will experience as a couple through the course of your careers. What your partnership will face is unpredictable. When I think on our list of “work-defined” experiences, I could have NEVER anticipated them all. No way.
This past weekend’s anniversary reminded me of all the ways our relationship has ebbed and flowed around our career choices and challenges — and the life we have co-created as a result. The list includes good, bad, and entirely unexpected, and covers all levels of experiences, from the mundane to rough to beyond blissful:
- The joy of having your feet rubbed during weeks of late night work
- The loneliness of long periods apart, evidenced by three million miles flown
- The thrill, fear, and adjustment of moving for an international assignment
- The doubt that dissolves into confidence after transitioning from major firm to private practice
- The ups and downs of running for political office — several times
- The career trajectory that shifts due to continual corporate change
- The new passions that emerge when you have found your true calling
Recently, I attended a great workshop for entrepreneurs and one of the first questions we were asked to complete was: Talk about someone who’s given you a valuable piece of business advice. Who was it? What was it? I was impressed by the variety of inspirations people shared. A woman and I bonded over the fact that we shared the same answer: our partners had inspired us most and each had uttered essentially the same thing: “you can and should do this”.
In an era of “Top Five Ways to…” lists, I offer one simple piece of advice: pick your partner wisely.
If you plan to “live a life well lived”, pick a partner who is ready to dance. If you constantly seek thrills and challenges, pick a partner with a strong stomach and a can-do attitude. If you push yourself to grow, pick a partner who will feed your soul.
Above all — pick a partner who believes in you.
As I said at the beginning, the “sickness and in health” part is almost a certainty, it’s a matter of when. But with your work, significant parts of it are out of your control. As I look back on each of our defining work experiences, I know we would not have achieved the successes we had nor made it through the rough patches without the strength of a solid partnership.
Whatever you do, pick the right partner.
#IDO #respect #resilience #courage #accountability #thoughtfulness #love
Jennifer J Fondrevay has had a wonderfully varied career, with 25 years spent in the corporate world crafting and shaping brands as an advertising and marketing executive. Thanks to the encouragement and support of her husband Greg, she has transformed into an entrepreneur founding Day1 Ready™ a consultancy that guides forward-thinking business leaders and their people through mergers and acquisitions. Look for her book, “NOW WHAT? A survivor’s playbook for thriving through M&A”, to be published in the spring of 2019.