Recently, I met a very successful lady entrepreneur, in my professional capacity. The lady is in her early 40s; and is the epitome of sophistication. We met in the coffee shop of a Delhi 4 star property; she at once made me feel gauche and inadequate. But that was only till we started our conversation, over a cup of coffee and sandwiches, we quickly moved from business to common interests: blogging and books among other things.
She started talking about herself, and the conversation slowly moved towards how being totally focused on her profession, she had not thought of having a child of her own; That’s when I realized that behind that cool, self-assured exterior lurked niggling doubts and unfulfilled desires. She spoke about an author, a lady ‘Ellen L. Walker’ who has written a book ‘Complete without Kids’. My charming guest was contemplating having a kid now at the age of 42. I am often told that my face mirrors my emotions; my mind was racing, I’m not sure what she saw on my face.
Sometime back during a workshop, responding queries on achievements so far, partly in jest, I had listed my 2 kids, smart, well mannered, good looking young men as my achievement. Being stuck for a long time in middle management, each time a question of ‘goal setting’ comes up, I get rankled. I look at all the young men & women, who have bypassed me up the career ladder and wonder, is it a sin to be middle aged and still needing to work? I had never realized that there may be many who yearn for the simple joys of having kids, making a marriage work, having a pet, cultivating a hobby etc. which they never experienced due to pursuing a successful career!
Coming back to the coffee session with the lady entrepreneur, I realized, she had mistaken my silence for sympathy or smugness, so I hastened to tell her that each of us have a priority and focus on one aspect of life, while postpone some other important aspects.
Being very adept at hiding emotions and vulnerability, she quickly moved the conversation back to work, the meeting ended well, at least on the surface.
Once back at my hotel room, I could not put the thought behind me and looked up the said author and stumbled upon her blog http://childlessbymarriage.blogspot.in/2008/12/on-our-own-and-free.html.
Scanning the blog I realized what ‘Subject matter expertise’ is! If you prefer, call it obsession with the topic. The author has chronicled her feelings & frustrations in her blog in a simple yet very touching manner. Almost one post every week! I understood that to be a published author all you need is single minded focus on ‘A’ given topic…
My learning from the discussion and the blog was, it is never too late to chase a dream and that success was only a myth. As Ross Perot said – Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.