In September, I predicted, “Sarah Palin’s and Michelle Obama’s impact will be a subtle yet powerful shift away from the “balance” mindset and the “all or nothing” work life dichotomy that drew the battle lines of the unwinnable mommy wars. They have the power to usher in the post-balance era of countless work life fit choices based upon our unique work and personal realities, and finally begin a productive discussion about the way work is done, life is managed, and business operates.”
Now Barack Obama is the President-elect, and my prediction is coming true. How we perceive Michelle Obama’s choices as she moves her family to Washington, and begins her new job as first lady is a rorschach test for our post-balance approach to managing work and life. Most of us still think in outdated “all or nothing” terms, judging Michelle Obama’s choices from a simplistic viewpoint. Consider the following myth-based responses:
Myth #1: She’s being forced into a more “traditional” role
According to a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, “While Obama has publicly embraced her soon-to-be-assumed role as first lady many women remain deeply divided over whether she will become a groundbreaking pioneer, or a dispiriting symbol of the limitations of modern-day, working motherhood.” Why does it have to be all or nothing, ground-breaking pioneer or dispirited symbol? Because this is how we think, and in doing so, we label ourselves and others in ways that are often inaccurate. Michelle Obama seems to understand. She told the Washington Post, “My view on this stuff is I’m just trying to be myself, trying to be as authentic as I can be. I can’t pretend to be someone else.”
Like all of us, she is a complex individual whose choices aren’t going to “fit” neatly into any simple category. I believe she’s going to be a ground-breaking pioneer, who will help us all envision unique possibilities of working and having a life.
Myth #2: She has “sacrificed” her career, which women are expected to do (Click here to read more)