Catherine Combs

January, 2019


“’Perfect’ Women in Media” by Rashida Jones

Early morning breakfast meeting.
Off the record politics briefing.
Breaking news at the White House.
Rehearsal for the class play.
Basketball practice for one kid and a basketball game for the other kid AT THE SAME TIME.

In my house, we call this a “Friday”. Seven days a week our days are packed to the max. Choices have to be made. Levels have to be set. And at times, hearts have to be broken. This is a reality I have to face as a journalist, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a partner. You can’t do everything all the time and you can’t do everything perfectly. This is something I’ve had to accept over the course of time and it has changed my life.

From my perspective, the “secret sauce” to being able to do it all is accepting the fact that you can’t do it all perfectly. You have to make choices and prioritize. You have to choose when you can say no to that work event (I said no to one today). Or when you have to say no to a non-critical event with your family (I said no to one yesterday). Or when a little extra sleep is a better self-care decision than staying on the phone a bit longer (I said good night early last night). It’s not about saying no or yes, it’s about balance. It’s all about balance. It’s being able to go to sleep at night (even if it’s a little early) knowing you’ve said yes to the most important things most of the time. And that your NOs are balanced across all areas of your life. No one area feels slighted or neglected if you balance these decisions and they understand why you are saying no.

The tradeoff to living in this state of balance is worth it. Every day I serve as a News Executive is a day my daughter has a real life role model of a woman who is a leader, a decision maker and a guide for other journalists. It’s a day my son learns more and more that leaders come in all shapes, sizes and colors. He comes from a line of very strong women—I don’t think he’s ever thought women can’t or shouldn’t be among the most powerful in the room. On those days when I miss a game because of a Presidential summit or have to skip back to school night because it fell on the same evening as the State of the Union, my duo knows it’s for a good reason. My company knows if I have to miss a late night because my daughter is overcoming her stage fright to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the Winter Concert (true story), it’s important to me and my family and they support me 100%.

We as women at times put pressure on ourselves to be perfect at all times. We can be highly self-critical when we can’t be. We have to not only accept that we can’t be perfect, but stop making this a goal. Embrace the upside of being in demand. Own the fact that you are multi-dimensional and multi-focused. Be comfortable with saying no to people or responsibilities you love when you need to. And realize your children are learning from you when you are feeding your passion-even when your passions fall outside of the time you spend with them.

Rashida Jones, Senior Vice President for Specials, NBC News and MSNBC