The two faces of Eve: balancing life, career


Dallas Business Journal
January 27, 1995

Picture this scene: a boy and his mother are having a stressful confrontation regarding the son’s inappropriate behavior. She is in control. After all, she is president of her won company. She deals with executive challenges and personnel issues all day long.

Dealing with her 13-year-old song ought to be a walk in comparison. She might even use a T-chart to list positives and negatives fo the behavior in question.

It is clear (to her) that the consequences of his actions will be negative; therefore an opposite course is charted for her son. End of discussion. Problem solved. Right?


This procedure works well in the office. Why not at home?

No matter how high up the corporate ladder women climb, we must understand that our roles in life are different. Balancing those roles is more that a juggling act. It is recognizing that being a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend, an individual and a boss require distinctly different skill sets.

Many management courses advertise and teach that the same skills which make you successful as a business person can be used in your personal relationships as well. Certain basic values do apply in common: moral standards and ethics. From this pint on the approach in dealing with personal relationships should be totally different.

As we mature in our professional lives, we learn to not take business issues personally. Economics 101 becomes reality and we understand clearly that in order for a business to survive, revenues must be a greater than expenditures. It is individual production levels that make this happen.

Recognition and reprimands are tools to control production levels. Feelings are important, and we all know employees need to fell good about themselves. Everyone likes recognition. No one enjoys being reprimanded. But within the business environment these two tools are not to be used as a measurement for human personal qualities. Management’s focus is on an individual’s contribution to the organization, not whether they are a good or bad person.

Let’s apply this rationalization to the scene with the T-chart, the mother and the 13-year-old son. Is this mother’s goal to determine how her son’s actions contribute to the “bottom line”? I don’t think so. A mother’s goal is to love. Through this pure love, children know they are valued, that they are important. And discipline is an important part of being a loving parent.

How many times have you hear introductions like, “This is Eve, and she has this wonderful company, Forever Exciting.” And you wonder, is there really an Eve or does she just exist to be president of Forever Exciting? Then what happens to Eve when the time comes too that she no longer holds her coveted position? What’s left? It is like the story of the concert pianist. A man approached him and said, “I would give my whole life to play like you do.” The pianist said, “I did.”

So, how do we achieve our long sought after goal of being Ms. Professional and not lose the loving, caring, feeling person that is inside each one of us? This has become the dilemma of the decade.
The best gift we can give our children is loving parents, parents who love one another. The best gift you can give your spouse is a healthy loving you. After all, your spouse fell in love with you for who you are – not who you strive to be. We get caught up in working hard to be a good employee, or boss. The best way to excel in all of these roles is to be yourself.

Take time to know yourself. Do you like what you have worked so hard to become? If not, recite the Alcoholics Anonymous creed about knowing what you have the power to change and accepting the things you cannot. We talk about balance, what we really need is harmony. It is when we try to be something that we are not that our bodies rebel and our relationships crumble. Surround yourself with harmonious people. They are the people who know themselves, they accept themselves, flaws and all. They want to be the best they can be, everyday and every minute. And they want to help others be the best that they can be.
Stay focused on your goals. You, like “Eve,” may have two faces. It is important that both faces are a true reflection of your innermost values. It is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.

Vickie Henry is chief executive of FEEDBACK Plus, Inc., a 23-year-old customer satisfaction firm based in Dallas. She is also the mother of Whitney, 24, and Wade, 20, and the grandmother of two.