Conventional wisdom says you can't succeed in a fast-track career and excel as a spouse and parent. Either you settle for middling professional achievement in favor of a superlative marriage, or you commit to your career at the expense of your home life. It makes sense that something has to give.
"Hogwash!" says California-based family therapist and corporate consultant Alan Loy McGinnis. In The Balanced Life: Achieving Success in Work and Love (Augsburg), McGinnis argues that rather than competing, work and marriage actually benefit each other. The working world provides valuable lessons for your family, he says, while your family serves as a needed base of support to help you succeed at work.
It sounds too simple to be true. He must be describing those rare, but highly successful, career-and-family stalwarts, the ones who get everything done by surviving on four hours of sleep. Nope. He insists he's talking about ordinary mortals like the rest of us. In an effort to win over skeptics such as myself, McGinnis outlined his "four laws of success" for career and marriage. Here's how they work.
Your first law of success is commitment, but the working couples I know are pulled between dual commitments. They feel as if they're constantly deciding what to neglect, work or family. But in your scheme of things, they've missed the point.
Most people don't realize that work and family is not an either/or proposition—you need to be committed to both. If you want to succeed at work, you'd better take care of your marriage and your family. That runs counter to much that is being written about work and home. A cover story in Fortune, for instance, concluded that if you devote yourself to the people you love, you won't remain on the career fast track very long.1