In October 2010, I was fortunate to hear Doris Kerns Goodwin speak live at a YMCA event in San Jose. Dorris is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer, historian, and an oft-seen political commentator. She is the author of biographies of several U.S. Presidents – including Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and her most recent book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Doris Kerns Goodwin was nothing short of amazing. She was charming, smart, relevant, and something she said really touched me. As a fan of presidential politics, one of the stories she shared really jumped out to me. She spoke of her last conversations with Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was a broken president at the end of his life.
She said, “As I understand the implications of this story, it reinforces a central wisdom I learned years ago at a seminar taught by the great Harvard psychologist Erik Erikson. And he taught us that the richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms – work, love and play. And that to pursue one realm to the disregard of others is to open oneself to ultimate sadness in older age, whereas to pursue all three with equal dedication, is to make possible a life filled not only with achievement, but also serenity.”
“So as you figure out the kind of work you want to do, the challenge is to find work imbued with meaning, work that provides enjoyment on a daily basis. If you choose a career for money or prestige or security but dislike going to work more days than not, it will never be worth it in the long run. As for the sphere of play, I’ve learned over the years that even with sports and recreation and hobbies, there’s a need for a level of commitment of time and energy deep enough to really enjoy something and be able to derive relaxation from it.”
I left the luncheon realizing that I have been incredibly fortunate. I’ve worked with people that I have fun with, and I love the clients and people we serve. I realized that if we can all fill the three buckets of “Work, Love, Play” through meaningful work, balanced with a fulfilling life with family and friends….then we are all truly blessed.
In January 2012, as part of a team kickoff presentation, we showed an image of buckets labeled “Work”, “Love” and “Play”. It was an effort to visually remind the team that we need to keep things in balance. Work hard, play hard, and embrace those in your lives with kindness and gratitude.
I am incredibly excited about being a part of ABD. And the three pillars of Work, Love, and Play. Thanks for a being part of it!
If you have two minutes you can check out this video: