September 24, 2014 — Today we’ll hear from our very own Krista Brookman, Vice President, Inclusive Leadership Initiative, Catalyst, about what “having it all” means to her. Krista took the initiative not only to share her own compelling story, but to interview dozens of colleagues, friends, and relatives as well. As Krista explains:
“As much as I admire Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi, Oprah, and other women with highly visible, impressive careers, I feel that many voices are missing from the current conversation about ‘having it all.’ What about stay-at-home moms (SAHMs), those who are making their mark in the corporate world but aren’t CEOs, those who are still trying to climb the ladder, and others who are just getting by? I decided to interview a diverse group of folks—single, divorced, and married, from my nearly 80-year-old mother-in-law to a friend who is a ‘serial entrepreneur’—and share their thoughts on what it means to ‘have it all.’ Some of what people sent made me laugh. Others brought tears. But most of all, I found myself nodding along as I read these very personal insights. Each reflection was heartfelt, raw, and candid. Together they help paint a fuller and more honest picture of how most of us find fulfillment.”
Read part one of this eye-opening blog series, Krista’s story, below—and stay tuned for parts two and three in the coming days!
I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, one hour north of Chicago and one hour south of Milwaukee. American Motors (Gremlins and Alliances, anyone?) was the heartbeat of this factory town. My mom was a secretary at American Motors and my dad worked “on the line.” My parents divorced when I was quite young and American Motors shut down. College was not a foregone conclusion. I grew up appreciating what I had because tomorrow, the company you worked for could close and you could have nothing. Having it all meant just having something.
When I was 16, my dad bought me a car. Two years later, at 18, he handed me the payment book and the insurance agent’s number, along with my college tuition bill. I learned early on how to manage a full course load, pay for my tuition/rent/car/food, and balance my checkbook. In order to have what I needed and wanted, I had to make hard choices about how I spent my time. Often these choices left me feeling that I had missed out. Having it all meant making sacrifices.
I entered the professional workforce as a receptionist and quickly learned that raising my hand, offering to help, taking risks, and saying “yes” meant advancement. I looked for opportunities to take on challenging assignments (and people). While it was important to me to do a great job, I also found time to connect with colleagues along the way. I eventually connected so well with a colleague that we got married. Having it all then meant being open to new challenges, opportunities, and experiences.
Fast forward to today. I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and Vice President at Catalyst. When I think about all of these roles, I know that my ability to “have it all” has come with a price. When I volunteer to read to my six-year-old son’s class and see his smiling face, I am having it all. When I take on a tough work assignment and have a breakthrough with my team, I am having it all. And when my family and I sit down to dinner and share the details of our day, I am having it all.
To me, having it all means appreciating all you have.
I encourage you to share your own stories in the comments section below—and to tune in tomorrow and the next day, when we’ll hear from some of my friends and colleagues about what “having it all” means to them!