As we in PR know, it’s important to have your priorities straight. A call from a 60 MINUTES producer wanting to book an interview with your CEO outranks a call from the local community newspaper to check the date on a calendar item.
Up to this point in my life, priorities were always pretty clear. As a friend and colleague likes to say, “God, family, your friends, yourself, in that order.” True. Of course, sometimes it feels more like “The Client, The Client, The Client, and what else, oh yeah, the The Client.”
For a lot of years, I pretty much lived to work, put my job first and foremost—I remember thinking during those days when I was still scouting for jobs that the fact that I was single should play well for me, i.e. “This guy has no wife or kids, so he won’t have to leave the office early to catch his kid’s softball game,” etc.
This sense of tunnel vision—or “tunnel life”—where all focus is placed on one thing (job) may seem like the way to excel in one’s career, but actually, that’s not the case, particularly in PR.
As I tell my PR students, variety is a good thing to cultivate in life, to have a vast number of interests, to expand one’s mind which serves to enhance intelligence and creativity (reading, the ultimate brain workout) You can't make everything about the Kardashians, Lady Gaga and pizza. That’s a pretty narrow focus. How are you going to connect with movers and shakers if you’ve got all the facets of a post-it note? How are you going to anticipate trends if you’re not aware of anything beyond the baseball scores? (Go Orioles!)
But what I’ve learned is, this “variety cultivation” has to go beyond how you do your job, beyond how much media you follow, how many business apps you have on your phone, etc. That’s limiting the scope of your variance. If your life is a menu, you don’t want it to be just Chinese food. True, you’ve got sweet and sour shrimp, and fried rice and egg rolls and beef-and-broccoli and fortune cookies, but it’s all still Chinese food.
So recently I experienced an “expansion of my life variance.” I got married.
First and foremost, let it be said that I did NOT get married in order to do my PR job better. That just happens to be a happy coincidence, a “side benefit,” and hence, inspiration for today’s blog entry.
Up to this point, I’ve only had a single point of view. Literally. As a Single Man. Then, I entered a 2-year phase, call it Engaged Man. Now, introducing Married Man, and unlike Piltdown Man, he’s no hoax.
Being married means I can no longer afford to look at life and my choices simply from my own point of view. As I was reminded recently, I’m still an “I,” but I’m also now a “We.” “You’ve got to be aware of the WE in the relationship,” I was told. I immediately made a joke about why I needed to purchase a Nintendo Wii to have a successful relationship, but that’s just my “I” side coming out.
Fortunately, my wife understands my humor, and likes it…most of the time…but being married does afford an opportunity—a lifelong opportunity in fact! -- to gain a new perspective on, really, everything. There’s a reason they say that marriage is about “making two as one,” it’s not just a figure of speech. Life can’t just be about eating burgers and watching O’s games and movies…now it’s about eating burgers and watching O’s games and movies with someone else (i.e. wife)…and occasionally taking the wife to dinner and taking in entertainment that isn’t sports related and discussing things beyond the importance of burgers in one’s diet, whether Chris Davis has finally shaken his season long slump, and whatever the next STAR TREK movie will be about.
It’s not just about exploring life with someone…it’s exploring life through someone…it’s being actively involved in everything there is to know and feel and love about another person—not in a controlling way, not at all, but in a way that is to your spouse’s benefit as much as your own. There must be balance, understanding, time to be serious, time to laugh…which is a pretty good attitude to develop when it comes to PR.
So you can see, my priorities are now realigned. I can now say, "I'd love to continue in this 5-hour meeting marathon here at 7 p.m. on a Friday, but my WIFE expects me home before the arrival of Halley's Comet, so good night, y'all!" I know who my TRUE target audience is, that's for sure.