Reflecting on priorities of family & work
Every once in a while I need a reality check to make sure I’m not too jaded or biased. Last week provided such an opportunity. I read that the CFO of Uber, the wildly successful and somewhat controversial rideshare service, decided to step down to spend more time with his family. This was on the heels of the MongoDB CEO stepping down several months ago for similar reasons, penning a blog to explain, “Why I am Leaving the Best Job I Ever Had“. Spending time with family is usually code for “things are going really bad at work and it’s at least partially my fault.” Given the controversies surrounding the fast-growing Uber, that’s where my mind immediately went. Why would a CFO step down from such a successful company? Something must be up.
My cynicism then went to thinking how nice it must be to be rich enough to not work and what an easy choice it must be to stay home with one’s family instead of work. I read several articles to get to the bottom of the mystery of why these men would step down at the height of their careers. And then I stumbled on this blog on SFGate and I got a slap in the face – on both cheeks.
On the left cheek: I read the blog and recognized how utterly sexist I was being. I thought I was so much more evolved. Apparently not. If a woman had made the same choice, I would have thought nothing of it. But because it was two men, I figured something must have been up. Stereotypes are deep-seeded and difficult to overcome. I had to check my sub-conscious biases and recognize that I would have done the same thing. At least, I think I would. If I ever had the opportunity (fat chance since I’ve been working in education for 20 years!) to cash out and spend more time with my family that other dads working would respect my choice.
On the right cheek: I read the comments on the stories. If you ever thing you’re jaded, just read the comments on a news story or blog. Holey moley!! The (mostly anonymous) righteous indignation of the commenters and how they almost universally panned the execs as entitled, rich dads not worth the time of day was palpable. Was I one of them? No way. I couldn’t be. But those thoughts did permeate and color my initial reaction. It took reading the absurd reactions of others to see that my reaction was just as absurd
After reading those comments I was able to re-focus and recognize that these dads are just doing what I would hope I would have. They are not heroes or villains or role models or self-righteous tech snobs – they are dads making a choice based on what they think is best for their families. And as for me – I am still evolving; hopefully, next time I see something like this – less jaded and less biased.
Note: Thank you to the tens of you who have commented so far on my blog – you are far kinder than most commenters out there.