Balancing Your Career And Family:
Define 'Success' And Consider 'Cost'
By David DeAndrea
Voice Actor & Producer
So my wife and I were channel surfing the other night and came across a documentary film about Kevin Clash called Being Elmo.
I had heard about the film when it first came out and was looking forward to seeing it, and I was immediately locked in when we happened across it.
It's a real rags-to-riches story about a young man who was really into puppets as a kid and who faced ridicule from friends growing up because he wasn't out playing sports like other boys. Instead, he was home "playing with dolls."
A DIFFERENT KIND OF DREAM
His dream was to be a puppeteer on Sesame Street.
While most kids would idolize movie stars or athletes, Kevin was a fan of people no one really knew about. In addition to Jim Henson and Frank Oz, there were people like Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Caroll Spinney - the people who brought the puppets to life.
Kevin's passion for puppetry, his drive, and some good fortune eventually combined into the worldwide phenomenon that is "Elmo."
The story was inspiring - the lives that have been touched, the joy brought to countless kids and adults, the dreams fulfilled.
THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
But toward the end of the film, we see a hint as to what some of the "casualties" of that success may have been. (I am in no way judging Kevin Clash or decisions he has made. I'm just sharing what I took from the film.)
We see a broken marriage, which may or may not have had anything to do with how busy Kevin was pursuing his dreams, and a daughter who didn't seem to get much time with her daddy.
Kevin reveals that his daughter had written him a note when she was in her early teens that said,
"Listen dad, it's about three more years that I'll be out of the house and doing my thing, and I want to be able to spend time with you, but you're so busy now and I don't want you to miss quality time with us."
You can almost hear the song "Cat's in the Cradle", can't you?
AN INTERVIEW OFFERS INSIGHT
Since seeing the film, I came across an interview with Kevin that shed a little more light on his struggle to try and balance success and family.
He was asked, "What's the most important thing your daughter has taught you?"
His reply was:
"Don't let your career and your work get in the way of this wonderful life that you have with your child. Yes, work is important, but you've got to balance it out and keep a perspective on what you're supposed to be doing at home."
ANALYZE SUCCESS AND ITS COST
I guess the first thing we need to do is define what success is for us, and then consider the cost.
If success is the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like, will you do anything to make that happen?
How much time, effort, and money are you willing to invest? Where (or who) is that time, effort, and money being taken from?
DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUCCESS
Maybe success to you is raising a well-adjusted, responsible, and confident child.
How much time, effort, and money are you willing to invest in that?
I know that it's a lot of work to try and keep things in perspective. The lines can get a little blurry sometimes.
IT'S ALL SO COMPLICATED
It's easy to rationalize that you're working hard to achieve success "for your family." Add another level of complication to that if you're involved in ministry work.
I certainly don't have THE answer as to what the perfect balance is, but seeing this show served as a good reminder to me to check myself and see how I'm doing, even to (gulp) ask my family how I'm doing with this balancing act.
Let me encourage you to take a few minutes to do the same. :)
ABOUT DAVE ...
Dave DeAndrea is a Voicey Award-winning voice actor and producer whose credits include national ad campaigns (Regus, Evinrude, Westwood College, Nascar), corporate narrations (LPL Financial, Panasonic, Duracell, PetSmart), animation and video games (Axe Cop, Heroes of Newerth), radio and TV imaging (SmoothJazz.com, SBN), and everything in between. Based on the southern Oregon coast, he’s also the Grand Poobah, Big Kahuna and Commander in Chief of KillerVoiceDemos.com, a company designed to create demos for voice actors that are a true showcase of their talent.
Demo Production: www.killervoicedemos.com
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