Since I have been back in the United States, continuing to work alongside women business owners, something has struck me as similar in each and every one of my discussions. Every single woman I have met with this summer has apologized for any number of things: for taking a little time off and being not quite as far along as she had hoped, for spending the summer with her child who is about to leave for college, for being behind on tasks we had discussed last time.
• “Sorry, sorry, sorry.”
• “I’m not far enough along.”
• “I’m not doing enough.”
• “I’m not where I wanted to be.”
This comes in stark contrast to the women I was surrounded by last year. And certainly not because the business owners in New Zealand didn’t feel guilt here and there for not being where they wanted to be, but because they didn’t apologize if they took some time for themselves or their families.
NOW WHY IS THAT?
I believe that all this apologizing in the United States is a symptom of a culture that is obsessed with ambition. If one does not demonstrate full-on ambition at all times, she is perceived as “less than”—or worse, not “fill in the blank” enough.
Which is absolutely and completely ridiculous.
Why would it be even a little bit acceptable to apologize for taking care of one’s mental sanity, for taking a break, for spending time with your family? Burn out is not the objective—a fulfilling life and successful business is the goal.
In New Zealand, ambition is not outwardly demonstrated. In fact, it is somewhat frowned upon. One culture is not better than the other.
But stressed out women business owners often juggle many other things besides their work. They shouldn’t have to apologize for that.
I accept your apology. But I don’t think it’s necessary, and I wish the American female business owner wouldn’t feel she needed to apologize for putting herself and her family first sometimes.