In 2009 my husband's consulting firm was on the verge of bankruptcy. He wasn't getting paid and we had some tough decisions to make about his – and our – future.
I had been doing freelance human resources consulting for the previous 10 years; it gave me the opportunity to work as time permitted and start a family. It also gave me the opportunity to support my husband through the most successful phase of his career thus far.
As my husband's company collapsed, I had to have faith in who I was and what my husband and I could potentially accomplish together. Both entrepreneurial in spirit, we decided to go all in and start a new information technology consultancy. Doing this during one of the worst economic times of our generation was a daunting endeavor, but I was pretty confident in our combined talents and efforts, and a company was born.
I spent the first six months getting our company "stabilized" and helping John weather a huge public relations storm. But because we could not have our entire household focused on a "start up" operation, I also needed to jump back into the workforce full-time. This was extremely difficult for me because I still had three preschool-age children at home.
My husband was able to run his company out of our home so that I could reemerge in the corporate workforce. He worked from home, cleaned and cared for the kids while I focused on my career and supporting the family financially. I now lead North American talent acquisition for a publicly-held company, and our local information technology business is also growing and thriving.
I could never have achieved or maintained my career success without my husband leaning in and taking on shared domestic responsibilities. While it wasn't easy at first and VERY hard for my husband (who is Catholic, holds traditional beliefs, is an athlete and was used to being the breadwinner), John leaned in to parenting, essentially acting as "soccor dad" to our three children. John's commitment and "non-traditional" contributions to our household have hands down been the key to my professional and financial success.
I now realize that life is like a relay race. We are constantly running at full speed, but the success of the relay comes when we know how to pass the baton to our partners—with confidence, coordination of effort and teamwork. Yes, at times we are going to stumble, we will get hurt and lose confidence, but we just need to keep getting up, finish the next leg and pass the baton to our partners. We will get stronger on each leg of the race. Just don't forget to take a breather and relish your partner's efforts until the baton is back in your hands and it's time to lean in again.