Sivu 30

europeanvoices Alexander Stubb The working family LENIN USED to say that the day can be divided into three eight-hour segments: eight hours for work, eight hours for leisure and eight hours for sleep. It all sounds much like his Communist ideology: a noble idea, but impossible to realise. My wife and I are working parents. She is a lawyer in an international law firm and I'm a member of the European parliament. We have two wonderful children, Emilie (five years old) and Oliver (almost three years old). In an ideal world I would like to spend eight hours in bed, eight hours at work and eight hours with family and friends. Each hour would be filled with quality time. I would exercise regularly, eat healthy food, enjoy romantic dinners with my wife, read classics and never lose my patience with the kids, or anyone else for that matter. Unfortunately real life is a bit more complicated than that. I rarely get to enjoy eight hours of solid sleep. At home I often think about work. At work I sometimes feel that I have left my brain at home. I'm sure you know the feeling... somewhere, even the perfect parent. But a hybrid of the two? Never! This is, however, not a statement against careers or family. On the contrary, I think that they go well hand in hand. You can actually learn a lot from both. It is 11 am and I have already resolved two disputes between opposing factions, held one management meeting to decide on the day's agenda, negotiated an appropriate outcome to a potentially sticky situation, held two conversations simultaneously whilst sending an e-mail from my Communicator and persuaded one reluctant assistant to do things my way rather than his. A typical day at the office, you might think. Except that I am not at the European parliament. I am at home on a day off with my children. The scope for improving your workskills in family life is enormous. Multi-tasking, conflict resolution, prioritising, efficiency and patience are all virtues ­ at home and at the office. In addition, the way in which you deal with your kids reveals a lot about your management skills at work. Are you patient with your children? Do you give them space to develop? Do you listen? Personalities do not change much between home and the workplace. "You might find the perfect CEO somewhere, even the perfect parent. But a hybrid of the two? Never!" One of the problems is that we all have I always wanted to be the perfect Alexander Stubb is a member of the European parliament who loves his family and thinks that work is a wonderful hobby. a distorted picture of work and family. In professional journals we read about the perfect CEO who turned around the company from failure to fortune. In home and family magazines we read about the perfect parent who bakes cookies for the school party, helps the kids with their homework, supervises every piano practice, attends every football match and makes birthday party invitations to boot. We seem to be striving for impossible ideals. You might find the perfect CEO father, husband and professional, all at the same time. But I gave up a long time ago. No matter how hard I tried, it did not work. So I've given up the search for perfection in favour of day-to-day happiness (and moderate chaos). It's good to work, rest and play. I just don't think that you can do it in simple eight-hour slots. Perhaps we should follow Aristotle on this one as well: "Nothing in excess, except moderation." 30 BLUE WINGS FEBRUARY 2007

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