Listen to My Wife

“In a world where most people are struggling, the search for ‘balance’ in high-powered jobs has to be counted a luxury. Still, there is something telling (if not downright dysfunctional) when a society’s most talented people feel they have to sacrifice the meaningful relationships every human craves as the price of exercising their talent.

Nowhere is there a greater gulf between the frustration people feel over a dilemma central to their lives and their equally powerful sense that there’s nothing to be done. As a result, talented people throw up their hands. Women are ‘opting out’ after deciding that professional success isn’t worth the price. Ambitious folks of both sexes ‘do what they have to,’ sure there is no other way. That’s just life.

My unreasonable wife rejects this choice. If the most interesting and powerful jobs are too consuming, Jody says, then why don’t we re-engineer these jobs – and the firms and the culture that sustain them – to make possible the blend of love and work that everyone knows is the true gauge of ‘success’? As scholars have asked, why should we be the only elites in human history that don’t set things up to get what we want?” — Matt Miller (New York Times op-ed)

While I agree, I also question the premise that the ‘talented’ people — the term he repeatedly uses — are confined to those who have made the devil’s bargain he posits, or that the thoughtful and caring among us opting out of the high-powered jobs is necessarily a tragedy we should restructure society to strive to prevent.