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Give yourself a whopping break

February 26, 2014

By Susan MacKenty Brady

This is the second in a series of posts by Linkage Executive Vice President Susan MacKenty Brady. Here, she shares hard-earned wisdom about navigating the choices that come with being a woman and choosing to lead. Read her first post, Debunking work-life balance: Managing our choices. —Ed.

I will most likely not take a sabbatical from my job to work in an “extreme” position like those who serve in a political administration. I cannot afford a full-time nanny (not in Boston, anyway, where the going rate is $20/hour—which turns out to be a monthly payment that could afford a small home—even in Boston’s best suburbs), but I’m not bitter about that. In fact, I think daily about how grateful I am for my very full life. I love my job, I have two school-aged daughters who seem to be flourishing despite the fact that their Mom doesn’t serve as a lunch-room monitor, and by the grace of God, I still enjoy my husband after 18 years of marriage. And, as I’ve written before, my version of “all” isn’t easy.

I agree with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who says that we need to tell girls they can have it all. In fact, early last year, I addressed 100+ women (and men) at the kickoff to a client’s Women’s History Month with a presentation titled “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Having It All.”

The funny thing is I do feel like I have it all right now, because I have defined and accepted my definition of “having it all”—to thrive and engage in my life. And to live my chosen life of “all,” I realize that I will make mistakes and disappoint others. I’m not perfect. I choose not to strive for perfection any longer. Instead, I have taken seriously the management of my self-esteem such that I can actually enjoy my life—as chaotic as it is on most days.

Ambition is good. Wanting to “make it happen” is exciting. Stepping in, or, to use Sheryl Sandberg’s newly minted phrase to “Lean In,” is a message I think women and girls of all ages need to hear. There will be curve balls and there will be lots and lots of choices to navigate. The irony is it isn’t easy to live a life of abundance. The game changer in the “work/life integration” conversation is believing we are worthy of going for it in the first place, and having the ability to give ourselves a massive break when the going gets tough. These Gremlins of Choice—perfection, control, and guilt—can all be managed if we give ourselves a whopping break. And when I have the chance to “out” my best moments of imperfection, I find that they are…well…funny.

What does “having it all” mean to you?

More about Susan

Susan MacKenty Brady is married to Jamie Brady, the mother of Caroline and Abigail Brady, a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to many, the Executive Vice President of Global Programming & Market Strategy for Linkage, an Executive Coach, and a champion for women leaders. See a brief clip of her recent keynote on Engaging Fully. She can be reached at or on Twitter @Susanmbrady1.

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