The Ideal Blend by Caroline Woffenden

I have a good friend who has developed a very successful business in the rat race that is our capital, working with some pretty senior executives to help them to identify and then live their ideal ‘blend’… That is, the appropriate ‘blend’ from all channels of their life to maintain and ensure optimum productivity (management speak aside – aka: happiness). Her consultancy work for this is paid for in the main by the employers.

In my own way (and I better point out that I’m only a self-certified ‘decent-enough’ boss) I’ve placed a fair amount of importance on this ‘happiness’ business over the years, good friend and her wisdom over bottles of Oyster Bay aside. Past and current members of my team will testify that one of my core mantras is that happy people are successful people (if they’ve heard it once…). And let’s face it, we all want to work and live with both…

But as someone who has always placed huge personal and collective importance on the work that I do and the job that I carry out, I have at times (a lot of times) struggled to  understand the mindset of the more laid back (God bless – and envy – them).

Why wouldn’t you have cereal boxes at your desk rather than your kitchen cupboard; was the salsa dance competition the day before a key pitch really that important – and what’s so serious you need to see a doctor (I jest… but I make my point).

Recently, I became a mum (and at that point I did register with a doctor…). A baby girl who I pinch myself about daily… and as all the clichés go, nothing you can read, discuss or imagine can really – really, really –  prepare you for that. True to form, I had prepared and handed everything over ahead of the eventuality within an inch of its life – as painful as that probably was to those around me as much as it was for myself I’m sure. True to form most of it was redundant – there haven’t been many days when I haven’t ‘checked in’.

My commitment and drive towards my business and my career, despite my personal circumstances, remains undented. I simply work hard to fit it all in and prioritise as best as I can, as difficult as that can be on some days as a new, young mum (well, less of the young… but a new, wide-eyed and utterly delirious at times Mum). However what has changed is my blend. Evenings now are about the Girl: feeding, nappies, temperature, feeding, nappies, getting her to sleep – oh and did I mention nappies… and somewhere along the line getting up to three hours of consecutive sleep for myself… yep, still only three. Gone – for now – are the evenings that were about stilettos, the little black dress and the little  black book. Shoulder pads have been swapped for breast pads…. My dignity in certain areas was left at the labour room door, I often say to myself.

But so what, priories and perspectives have changed. A shifted blend has meant that I can continue to balance and perform against all areas as I want to. I can sift through emails at 4am if I need to and if the work toilet hasn’t been adequately cleaned that week, you know what, I can leave that to someone else to sort (again… I jest… but point made). I have less time in some spheres of my life now as a Mum but arguably I am now even more focused than ever before. As the saying goes, cut the crap and get to the chase (no nappy pun intended).

So don’t judge your own success by the time you spend at your desk or the thinking (and in many worrying) about work. Judge your success by your appropriate blend – your family, your relationships, your hobbies, your external interests. All of these contribute immeasurably to your outlook and value within the working environment – not only for yourself but for those around you.

Right, off to change a nappy.