Choose to Live a Life That Matters

Melanie Liddle Healey came to the United States from Brazil to attend university. It was a bold move for an 18-year-old, she told a group of students and alum. It also was a move that scared her.

In reflecting on her life, she asked herself, “How am I different today than I was 35 years ago?” She realized her values, talents and passions are pretty much the same. What shaped her, she said, are the choices she made along the way, and “therefore, the experiences I have had.”  She recently announced her retirement from Procter and Gamble.

The intentional choices that Melanie made included:

Choose to be you and believe in yourself. “Believe that you can do anything,” she shared.

The right choice is often the most difficult. “When we do the right thing, we can look everybody in the face without fear,” she said. “We gain the respect of our people and of our families and children, by making them feel proud of what we stand for and what we do. Ultimately, you will be respected for standing up for what you believe in.

Choose to find the courage to step out of your comfort zone. “When you have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, magic happens,” she said.

Choose to make a difference, to give back. She said leaders have a moral obligation and a responsibility to give back and to use their “influence and power proactively to help our communities prosper and be better, stronger.”

You cannot choose to have it all. She said that the choice to not have it all is liberating. “If I cannot have it all, what can I have? What do I really want and what is really important to me?” she asked. “Once you shed the shackles of the illusion that you can choose to have it all, you can focus on the essentials of life.”

She summed it up succinctly:

“Choose to live a life that matters.”

The Myth of Work-Life Balance

When asked about how she creates work-life balance, Melanie Liddle Healey, group president-North America, Procter & Gamble, bluntly told a group at a women and leadership conference, “I don’t believe in work-life balance. There is no balance.”

That doesn’t mean we should all become discouraged. She suggested three ways to have a happy life.

The first, she said, is to know when things in your life aren’t working. Once you recognize that, you can make changes.

Communicating expectations also is key. When she returned from maternity leave, she knew she wanted to be home to have dinner with her family. She spoke with her boss and explained that she would be 100 percent focused on her job between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. She also asked him to ensure that meetings ended by 6 p.m. He agreed.

Finally, she said to drop guilt. “It will eat you up,” she observed. Instead, she said you should delegate those things that don’t add much value and cherish those that mean the most.

It’s a good road map if only we would follow it.