Chapter 4: Personal Relationships
That night her brother Sam called. He would regularly check in with her, even when she didn’t always return his calls right away. Although he was younger than she was, he often took on the “big brother” role and looked out for her.
“Scarlett, I know what you are going to say, but I have a guy I want to introduce you to.”
“Sam...I don’t know.” He had tried this once or twice before and she was a little weary.
“Scarlett, come on - he’s a doctor. What girl doesn’t want to land herself a doctor?” This was an ongoing joke between the two of them since Sam himself was a physician.
Scarlett thought about it a little bit and remembered the insight that she had when she met with Jack - that her underdeveloped relationship skills might extend into her personal life. If she were truly going to work on this then why not give this guy a chance? “Ok, I’m up for it.”
“Really? Great!” said Sam and let her go before she could change her mind.
A couple of days later Sam’s friend Lee called and asked her out. They planned to get together on Saturday. She was going to remember what Jack had told her - that she needed to build trust through communicating and being open with those around her. She would see how that went with Lee.
Scarlett opened the door when Lee rang the bell on Saturday. He was wearing khakis and a blue polo shirt reminding her of the guys she went to college with at Georgetown. He was a good height and she was pleasantly surprised that he was good looking with his brown hair and athletic build. They walked out to the car together. “So your brother told me you are a lawyer, right?”
“Yes I am in Estate Planning, so I work with a lot of elderly clients.”
“Must be nice to always be the young one. I’m in pediatrics, so I am always the older person in the room,” he joked. Scarlett liked his laugh, and she found herself laughing too.
“How do you like being a pediatrician?”
“It keeps me on my toes, and I love the energy of the children. Even though they might be sick, they’re still so open and innocent. I enjoy that.” Scarlett liked that they both worked with people and were passionate about their work.
When they arrived at the restaurant, they looked at the menu while chatting about their families and themselves. Lee was a bit of an adventurer and liked to do a lot of outdoor activities, even though he was focused on his career. He made time for hobbies such as skiing and rock climbing.
He asked her how she spent her time outside of work.
Scarlett fumbled. “I...um...well...” But after a moment she regained her composure. “I guess I am still figuring that out.”
After they turned their conversation to work and he heard how much effort she put into her clients and the firm, he remarked, “It seems to be taking a toll on you.”
She looked away for a second, but then returned his gaze. “I love it, but I guess I’m realizing that I also need to start investing in both my professional and personal relationships. If I don’t, I won’t be able to achieve my goals. Being a partner is all I ever dreamed of.”
He looked over at her sympathetically. “I totally understand.”
Scarlett wondered how someone so balanced could possibly relate to her situation. As if he read her mind her continued, “I was going for partner with my firm a few years back as well. When I got it, I was surprised to realize that it wasn’t everything that I thought it would be. In fact, the additional responsibility meant a lot of extra work. It was hard because I was making plenty of money, and I liked the prestige of being a partner, but in the end, the money did not outweigh the extra time it entailed. After a year at that pace, I decided to take a yearlong sabbatical and decide what I wanted to do next. I guess you could say I had a mid-life crisis.” he laughed.
Scarlett couldn’t imagine what she would do with a year away from the firm and asked Lee how he spent the time.
“I went to Cambodia to volunteer on a medical mission, to New Orleans to help with the post-Katrina aid, and then took some time off to travel. I realized I still loved the work I did, but I wanted more ability to control my time and to really invest in meeting the right person. So I started my own business. After the initial ramp up period I now have more flexibility and truly can invest much more time in my family and friends...” He trailed off and smiled at her.
Scarlett was intrigued. They finished dinner over pleasant conversation and then drove home. He walked her to her door at the end of the evening and asked her if he could take her out again.
“That would be great,” she replied as he gave her a hug.
That night Scarlett tossed and turned in bed and hardly got any sleep. Would she feel like Lee did when she made partner? As uncomfortable as she was in building relationships, she was realizing that if she didn’t invest more in them, her work might be all she had in the end. Maybe this 360 assessment was a blessing in disguise, she thought. It might help her find exactly what she needs.
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.