Many of you are old enough to remember the famous ’70s TV show “The Brady Bunch.” I have to admit I only watched reruns in my early years, but I do recall Marcia Brady being one of my first role models. Tall, slim, witty, cool family, popular at school. To a little girl, she had it all. In one episode, Marcia is running for school class president, along with being cheerleading captain and organizing a school fundraiser. All the usual comedic things happen as she starts to take on too much and refuses help from family and friends. Even in her flaws, I still thought she was amazing.
In the real world and away from bell-bottoms and freckle-faced high-school football players, this storyline continues to resonate with me. Those of us who are overachievers, both personally and professionally, can relate to jumping into any situation with both feet and arms. You see a problem and you want to fix it. The wheels need to get back on the bus. And as you dive in, you’re faced with additional opportunities or challenges. So the bus becomes a boat, and suddenly there are no wheels – only water all around you. I’ve recently finished the book “Thrive,” in which Arianna Huffington outlines the importance of not only work-life balance, but focus. It’s critical to success.
My generation is one of fast-paced fixers, and I suspect my kids’ generation will be as well. Millennials. We hop around. We want work-life balance, yet on our terms. We focus hard and quick. But it raises the question: Is it better to complete five things well, or accomplish two things perfectly? Focus. It can become a culture of feeling like we need to work 24×7 and give 125 percent of ourselves, and that work potentially comes before family and happiness. If we stopped to identify what those two goals are that we want to perfect, would we achieve more in the long run?
In the end, Marcia Brady learns good lessons: focus, partnership and (personal) limitations. She gets everything she wanted, but she doesn’t do it on her own. I look around me every day and I see opportunities to become a Marcia. It’s something the little girl in me still strives for; however, I now pause before the overachiever in me takes on more than I can perfect. In looking for partnerships in opportunities, and finding my focus, I’ve found I can fulfill the inner Marcia.
Don’t lose your ambition. But I challenge each of you to perfect a few goals, rather than just complete a basketful, and see how much further you get.