Sunday, October 16, 2011

Up In The Air

There is a movie with the same title. It jumped to my mind as I opened my laptop sitting in a business lounge at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow waiting to take off for Geneva. Now that I am back in the workplace, my jet-setting business trip layover hotel airplane food begins again. It is an ambivalent feeling: on the one hand, I am glad to be up in the air again, enjoying the dynamic life of airports and meeting rooms inseparable from the present day international business, but on the other hand, I feel uneasy about breaking my routine (gym, friends, cultural life) and submitting my body to dehydration, sleep deprivation and jet lag.

I see to have arrived at the same point in my weltanschaung as the character of George Clooney, but some 30 years earlier. Mobility gets you to the top much faster and your readiness to be away from your your family will cast a positive reflection on your paycheck, but how do you put a price on relationships and well-being? One of senior VPs, who once interviewed me, confessed that he had got to where he was primarily due to his willingness to be mobile internationally. Bitterly, he added that it had cost him his marriage.

It boils down to making choices. Many would give a fence-sitting answer that it is all about balance, that sitting at home all of the time is also no good, and that separation makes hearts grow fonder, but how many have actually managed to achieve that equilibrium successfully and maintain it?

I am pro-balance. Big time: my Zodiac sign is Libra, after all. I enjoy traveling and I enjoy the comfort of my routine. I love novelty and I revel in the company of old friends and that significant other. There are compromises, of course: you can travel to places where you have friends and catch-up with them while you are on a business trip, or you can take your partner with you, who will enjoy sight-seeing and shopping while you are toiling away at the office, or you may come up with another alternative arrangement... I guess what I am trying to say is that finding the balance is not impossible. It also depends very much on your personal values and your ambitions in life. George Clooney was very clear on that. Until something (well, someone) changed his point of view.

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