Teamwork makes the dream work
Never was this brought home to me more than this week, in regard to the sudden and tragic death of Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband of COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, which caused a real wake-up moment for me. I read Sandberg’s book, Lean In, in 2013 when Simone bought it and gave it to Katherine and Hannah in our office to read too, and we were touched by the partnership between her and her husband, noting her quote in her book ‘they had arrived at a place where they were partners not just in what we do, but who is in charge’.
In the book she refers repeatedly to her own family situation and her loving relationship with her husband. Sim and I, and many others, were inspired by their love, teamwork and mutual efforts to balance parental responsibilities with work and family life.
Goldberg wrote on Facebook earlier this year that he was ‘really proud’ of his wife for ‘leading the fight for equality’. He wrote: ‘Equality is not only the right thing to do but it also brings a lot of benefits at home and at work. I am really very lucky to have such an incredible partner in my life.’
President Barack Obama, in a signed post on the White House Facebook page, said: “His (Goldberg’s) skills as an entrepreneur created opportunity for many; his love for his family was a joy to behold, and his example as a husband and father was something we could all learn from.”
I’m so moved by this couple and what’s happened, for many reasons. Namely because it’s such an example to me how beautiful life can be when you find that magical life partner, when you love passionately AND work hard, when you strive to make your dreams happen together, when you work together to find that difficult balance where everyone’s needs are met in the family – and yet life can change in a heartbeat, and your soulmate and beautiful balance can be taken away.
It freaks me out.
My heart goes out to her, their families, their kids for their immense loss; and I feel so much compassion for Sheryl having to carry on without her ‘true partner’. I don’t know what I’d do without Sim, and vice versa, because we too have an ‘inextricably intertwined’ marriage, career and family life (see photo).
The lesson I’m taking away from this tragedy, because I always have to look for a positive out of a negative, is to be inspired by this instance of equality in a very unequal world. This couple started to make positive changes, and redefine how we think about our loved ones and partnerships. It’s not just women who will gain from this; we men will benefit too as the gender stereotypes that constrain women at home and at work are lifted. Being a ‘working father’ is hard too, although that equivalent label is rarely applied to us. Perhaps Goldberg’s legacy will be that flexible working arrangements become an option for men and women, and socially acceptable, not just a ‘female’ option to make an exhaustive effort to juggle both.
Sandberg encouraged men to lean in to their families as much as women should lean into their careers. I feel very lucky to own my own entertainment company Incognito Artists and be able to call the shots of when and where I sing, but then again, I created it for this specific intent. I can lean in to my family and I benefit a million times over in so many different ways for being very involved in my kids’ lives, and sharing responsibilities at work and at home with Simone. Sim definitely still does the lion’s share of juggling, there’s no question, especially because of all the travelling and kind of work I do (yes, sounds like a good excuse), but when I’m not travelling I try to be mindful of how much more I can contribute, which benefits us all.
Finally, Sandberg’s heartfelt tribute to her husband on facebook reminds me to keep striving to be a better husband, father, brother, son, friend and colleague. It reminds me to feel grateful for every minute we have together.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Here’s to treasuring those breathless moments. One team, one dream!