For years, I've joked (sort of) that "I live to serve!"
It's a riff on a black woman's most frequent role since our ancestors were brought to this continent against their wills. But it's also been true.
As a local television anchor (while I attended HBS) and later as a CBS News correspondent, I “served” my viewers by presenting them with a first draft of history. Whether I covered nuclear arms talks between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev or the murder trial of cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer or art produced by Gordon Parks or Pierre-Auguste Renoir, my goals were the same – to inform and illuminate, to make my own and other peoples' brain cells tingle.
Now, I serve my clients as a communications consultant as well as the KIPP Charter Schools in NYC on whose board I sit. I serve the people who attend events I organize for the Harvard Club or the New York Historical Society. I serve the KIPP Academy 7th graders whom I and other HBS African-American alumni have mentored in each of the last nine years.
Women will no doubt continue to serve, but make no mistake. There is no “work-life balance.” There is no balance. There is joy, however, and it comes in the doing – the serving – with excellence and passion. You select the audience: family, friends, co-workers, clients, even strangers. Their lives are enhanced whenever your joy is expressed.