Of all the articles of clothing, it’s shoes that challenge me the most when it comes to choice. For one, they must be comfortable, secondly, they must be smart and three, they must be safe and suitable for the occasion. Ask any hiker, biker, dancer or baker how important their footwear is, and I am sure they will be aligned with me, and no doubt you too?
Last year, a very inspiring woman passed away, her name was Wanda Ferragamo-Miletti. She was the wife of Salvatore Ferragamo, the famous Italian shoemaker. Like most entrepreneurs, Salvatore became successful by coupling extreme hard work with two main qualities; observation and an eagerness to improve. Salvatore realised that to be the best, his clients should not only love the look of his shoes, they should also love wearing them. In short, no matter the design, they needed to be comfortable. Salvatore’s mantra was ‘equilibrium’. For him, equilibrium was not compromise, but the pursuance of style and comfort in equal measure. But I digress. This blog is not so much about Salvatore as it is his wife Wanda.
When Salvatore died at the age of 52 in 1960, Wanda was still only 29. Having produced six children in the previous ten years and being a full time housewife and mother, Wanda decided to take over her late husband’s business. Utilising the knowledge, she had gained in conversations over the dinner table, she grew the company into a global fashion brand, famous, not only for shoes but also for bags and other high-end luxury accessories. According to biographers, Wanda was a formidable business woman with a great eye for talent. She was a quick and decisive decision taker, a visionary and an excellent people manager, able to bring out the best in all around her. In short, she took on and expanded Salvatore’s concept of equilibrium, into everything she did.
Like most entrepreneurs, for Wanda, you cannot apply the contemporary concept of work life balance, where the fulcrum is placed somewhere near the centre. But you can observe equilibrium on multiple levels and planes, with the fulcrum of each one, at times, far to the left or right. As long as there is sufficient down force on the short end to keep things in balance, equilibrium can be maintained. I believe that most great lives are lived in a state of equilibrium, where cantilevers and flying buttresses are also used, as required.
So, in conclusion, for 2019 I am not looking for work-life balance. I am not looking to rush home, just to be at home to watch TV or to sit next to someone I love. I am looking for equilibrium where multiple activities can take place, in some kind of complex pattern and balance. Where extremes are permitted and tolerated, because they have purpose and meaning. Equilibrium is not about some kind of selfless balance for family, friends, clients and colleagues, it’s about looking for and living life to the full, where time can be dedicated, sometimes in extremes in one direction or another. But it’s also about finding enough time for oneself to relax and to indulge oneself in simple pleasures, and to find meaning by reflecting on words like duty, dignity and compassion.
Happy New Year, bring on 2019 – I am ready for it!
Note: the image of Salvatore’s icon High heel pump shoe is reproduced from Salvatore Ferragamo’s Wikkipedia page and can be found at this location: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_High_Heel_Pumps.jpg