I read your letter about vacation time off. One thing that really struck me – I think lots of people, at least in New York (me, included) have the feeling that they can’t take vacations because they are absolutely necessary to the job. As you know, your father and I met while we were both working at Colt Industries in New York. When we got married, Colt’s policy was that married people could not work there – one had to go. I was working for their General Counsel – the head lawyer. I actually thought I was doing a great job, and was a valued employee. I felt bad about having to leave and worried how my boss would survive without me. It was a great shock to me to find out that I may have been doing a great job, I may have been a valued employee – but Monday morning someone else was sitting at my desk doing the very same thing.
Lots of people think they’re irreplaceable at work. But while most businesses (at least the best ones) do value the people who work for them, irreplaceability isn’t exactly a sound business model. If it was, you wouldn’t be reading this on your MacBook or iPad right now.
I definitely think the Europeans have it right. Your job is your job. It pays you money so you can enjoy your actual life. At work, you’re replaceable. To your kids and the people who love you (yourself included), you’re not.
I think by the time most people reach my age they’ve learned this lesson. But the earlier you learn it, the better. Show up at work, but never at the cost of not being present in your life.