Eileen McDargh has nothing against a healthy paycheck. In fact, she is quite in favor of the idea, for herself and anyone else.
But not at the expense of "living." And living, according to the Laguna Niguel woman--and according to her new book, "How to Work for a Living and Still Be Free to Live" (Prentice-Hall, $9.95)--means balance: "acknowledging and celebrating the power we have to touch and claim all those areas of life: intellectual, professional, physical, material and spiritual."
If the checkbook is healthy, but that life balance is missing, something needs to be changed, McDargh said--even though such change may affect that plump paycheck.
True success involves both "mastery" and "pleasure," McDargh said. Mastery relates to work, with "your sense of accomplishment, using the talents you have"; pleasure, to relationships with those you love and with friends.
'Golden Star of Work'
"I think (that) sometimes professionals get so activated to that golden star of work that they forget there are other parts of living," McDargh said. Her advice: "Go where you're aiming, but keep in mind that it won't be enough when you get there."
However, McDargh does not advocate vows of poverty. People who apparently have found balance include some of the rich and famous, she said. For instance, former "MASH" stars Alan Alda and Mike Farrell both have managed successful careers, loving marriages and community involvement, McDargh said. Actress Joanne Woodward is a success at home, in her profession and in her community.
Examples of less famous balancers are sprinkled through McDargh's book. One of those is Huntington Beach's Hazel Gaines.
Gaines, McDargh said, took over an international transportation company "at the age of 36, with eight employees and about $1.5 million in business."
Ten years later, revenue hit $14 million. In rising to president of the company, Gaines left behind earlier posts within the firm as clerk, packer, secretary and sales representative, McDargh reported. She also divorced her husband.
But some years ago Gaines found a new love interest. "Within the last five years," she told McDargh, "he's changed and so have I. He left his yacht and million-dollar house and said, 'What's it for? All I want to do is to spend the rest of my life with you.' He's teaching me to let go. We need time, and now I'm starting to claim it. And I'm learning that my company will be better for it."
For some, McDargh suggested, balance can be added to an existing life style, like "the executive who sleeps outside sometimes just to watch the stars or the general manager of a country club who slings his backpack across his shoulders and heads into the High Sierra for two weeks."
For others, the added ingredient is spiritual. McDargh quotes psychotherapist Robert Wendorf of Laguna Niguel: "Before, my ego attempted to derive its sense of goodness solely from me: I am bright, I am nice, me, Robert. That's the opposite from drawing my sense of goodness from that which is universal. . . . I am part of life. . . . How then can I be steward of talents for the planet? It's a pretty big rearrangement."
McDargh wrote about a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company who took early retirement to develop other interests, and about a pre-med student who decided her real interests would be satisfied by something much less involved: She became a manicurist.
"How to Work for a Living and Still Be Free to Live," which is just hitting the local bookstores, is meant as a supportive book for those involved in that process of change, realizing that they "want more out of life than a paycheck," McDargh said.
Many of the book's stories are personal reminiscences by McDargh. Although she now seems satisfied to be head of her own McDargh Communications, through which she offers workshops, personal appearances and consulting services to such clients as Libbey Glass, Marriott Corp. and Allergan Pharmaceuticals, McDargh has done her share of shedding good jobs with financially rewarding paychecks.
Left Florida Job
Before moving to the West Coast in 1978, McDargh was in charge of marketing and public relations for a Florida resort and residential community. Shortly before she left, the company began a reorganization, she said. She had been "offered a good salary" if she would stay. But her marriage had just broken up, the job no longer was satisfying, and "I decided I needed a whole, brand-new everything."
"I came out here," she said, "with basically what would fit in my Camaro and with $2,000 in the bank."
It took two weeks just to conquer the Southern California freeways, she said, laughing. But before long McDargh was on a new career track, this time in corporate communications with a national health-care management company.
Her success there led to an offer from a major Orange County public relations firm, and McDargh soon was an account executive whose clients included multinational companies.
And then, five years ago, she left that job to make another start.