Saying No by Saying Yes: Advice for Work-Life Balance
One of the most challenging interviews for me to ever get I actually lost in the same day, because of this thing that is commonly referred to as “work-life balance”… I had really wanted to interview Michael Jackson back in the early days when I was reporting for Entertainment Tonight. And I had jockeyed and jockeyed and jockeyed for this position.
So I had a new baby at the time (my daughter who is now 25), was nursing at the time, I was scheduled to go and meet him on Hollywood Boulevard for something, and I was late for the interview, I had been breastfeeding my child, I’m rushing to get out of the house, nothing is going right – those days that we’ve all had. I parked the car, frantic, a trail of things behind me, and I look down before I go to meet the crew and realize that – women can relate to this – on my beautiful silk blouse I had breastmilk stains. I did not have a change of clothes, I didn’t have a jacket, and I was not going to interview Michael Jackson with the breastmilk all over my blouse. So, I did the most unprofessional thing a woman can do, I started crying. So since I started crying I had mascara streaking down my face. It was one of my most – I was going to say shameful and I think that’s probably the right word. I had to forfeit the interview because I literally could not get it together.
So that was the hardest one, the one that got away, because I couldn’t figure it out. That never happened again. But I will never forget it. I learned so much the day that I could not interview Michael Jackson because I just couldn’t get it together because I was nursing my child. I figured out that life is all about choices and you really can’t do everything, and you wouldn’t even want to if you could.
And so, I learned to say no by saying YES. Here’s what I mean by that… I came up with a little trick that “YES” for me stand for Your Empowerment System. So what does it take for me to feel empowered? I need to feel respected, I need to feel valuable, I need to feel sane, I need enough time, I need to feel prepared – those are the things that I need. For you it’s different things, so go through a list of what you need to fit into Your Empowerment System. If those are the things that fit for you, say yes to those people, to those assignments, to those situations, say YES. If it doesn’t fit then don’t have any guilt, say no – that’s a complete sentence – don’t bat an eyelash, walk away. Because that’s a way you can say YES to yourself. That day with the Michael Jackson assignment, I should have said no and said YES to my child.