ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - August 2000

Issue Highlight - Homeward Bound
--- Peter Block offers some practical reccomendations about how to create balance and harmony in your life.
These recommendations are guaranteed to work or your time back."

In This Issue...
The Economics of Choice
Children: A Blessing or a Lucky Taxbreak
Welcome to the Wild West
The Struggle to Have It All

Peter Block Column
Day In The Life Stories
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Letters to the Editor

Balancing Work and Life — A Profile

Juggling Priorities

 Pat Mucci's life is not what many people would call balanced. A workshop administrator for 12 years at Designed Learning, a consulting firm, she and her husband recently decided to open a casual, 58-seat Italian restaurant called La Cucina in nearby Linden, N.J.

  As a chef for 15 years, her husband was accustomed to working long hours, but he had a dream of his own place. Mucci recalls talking about it. "We said if we're going to put in 12 hours a day, six days a week, why not put in 14 hours, make it seven days, and have our own place and really be able to reap the benefits." Neither of them expected to take this step quite so soon in their four-year marriage. "We're at an age where we're not kids, but we're not too old to take on the time commitment," Mucci says. They're in their early 40s.

  "We understood that this was going to take a chunk of our lives, but it was such a passion for him, I wanted to do it," she says, adding, "It's a collaboration of sorts." He creates the product; she presents it. He runs the kitchen: planning menus, purchasing and cooking. Mucci runs the front end: marketing, greeting customers and managing the serving staff.

  So her evenings and weekends are committed to building La Cucina into a thriving business. Weekdays, however, "I work a standard business day at Designed Learning," Mucci says. She couldn't have jumped into supporting her husband without an employer willing to be flexible.

  "They know they can't expect a total commitment to the organization without some sense of giving back." Designed Learning freed Mucci up one day a week so she could handle La Cucina's start-up activities earlier this year. Right now her income from the firm funds their day-to-day lives: "I'm keeping a roof over our heads until the business starts making a profit."

  So she makes the 15-minute commute to the restaurant after a full day at the office, and spends her weekends there. "What it has affected is our down time. There isn't any," she laughs. "He can't have someone else ordering. He can't have someone else butchering or handling the seafood. He just has to be very hands-on right now."

  But she envisions an adjustment, once La Cucina is on its feet. "Bringing on someone else," she believes, "is going to be sort of a perk down the road." Then they can take some time away and return to a more traditional balance.
For now, Mucci finds this stressful equilibrium worth the long-term struggle. She knows it may not be for everyone, and acknowledges if they had children, it would probably be impossible. "If the commitment isn't there, don't do it," she advises. "It'll just tumble down." Business is good these days at La Cucina, and Linden residents are proving that Pat Mucci's decision to be temporarily unbalanced was a wise one.

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