12 Benchmarks

August 1, 1995 Astoria, New York

 

Enoch smiles at Sarah across the dinner table. The candlelight reflects in her brown eyes. As usual, he admires her timeless beauty. She is everything he ever dreamed of in a wife. She is beautiful, kind, and intelligent. She graduated at the top of her class at Harvard Law School—no small feat. She is only one of two women named Managing Editor of the Harvard Review. Now she’s a highly regarded patent attorney with aspirations of building her own company.

Enoch is a man who has always wanted an intelligent and strong-willed woman to share his life. He knows Sarah will keep things exciting. For his part, Enoch is a traditional Jewish man who takes seriously the expectations of pushing to the top of his career, as well as building a great life for his wife.

From the beginning of the marriage, Enoch and Sarah made it a point to set benchmarks for their lives together. They set their first-year goals one week after marrying. They decided to reassess the goals each year on Enoch’s birthday, August 1. Tonight’s dinner is to celebrate his thirty-second birthday. The dinner of sea bass and kosher wine is in keeping with their tradition. The chocolate soufflé is ordered. Now is the time to talk benchmarks.

Enoch feels good about this birthday. He is on target with most of his goals. In addition to having the ideal wife, he is up for partner with his law firm Shapiro, Goldberg, and Murdock. The firm helps Wall Street companies with an array of employee law matters. Enoch finds himself drawn to cases that pit corporate America against the government. He specializes in regulatory issues and Human Resource Law, the fastest growing areas of business law.

Representing clients with employer-employee issues connects Enoch closely to U.S. Representatives and Senators. These connections spiked his interest in running for public office. He started by running for the local school board in 1988. Not being a parent yet, Sarah had petitioned with him to give a united couple image. When on stage with him, she had made sure to spotlight her work with children in third world nations.

Enoch narrowly won the election. As he neared the end of his term in 1990, he ran for New York’s 12th Congressional District. Again, he faced some tough odds coming from the small town of Astoria in the borough of Queens. At the time, the town had a population of less than 80,000 people. Sarah helped Enoch secure the 3,000 signatures necessary to get him onto the ballot. Together, they built a platform on the integration of personal responsibility with business and community responsibility.

From the beginning of his political career, Enoch has been passionate about local community development. He’s a Jewish man living in a community with a very small Jewish presence. Astoria is not exactly a thriving hub of Jewish life. By itself, this is not a bad thing—he does not want his family to live in a culturally uniform neighborhood. Even so, when he and Sarah leave from an evening at the Astoria Center of Israel, they feel isolated from community by the time they pull into their driveway just ten blocks away.

Enoch is also passionate about the role local businesses play in the stability and growth of a community. He campaigned with a triangle model of community, local business, and the U.S. government. Since he was a Jewish man running on the Republican ticket in a strongly Democratic district, the contradiction garnered him some very valuable press. He won with a margin of less than one percent.

Enoch put his position at the law firm on hold to move with Sarah to Washington D.C. Though he can no longer accept new cases, he still consults with his long-term clients. Mostly, he wants to hold onto his position at the law firm in case the U.S. Representative gig goes under. To his surprise, he has been enjoying almost every aspect of his new role. He is a junior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, keeping him connected to his passion of international affairs.

Lately, the committee’s main focus has been upon empowering women in the rapidly developing third world. Not only does this objective integrate with his community, business, and U.S. model, it also resonates with Sarah’s passion of helping women and children living in Third World Nations. Enoch consulted with his wife on the topic, and she set him straight on the issue from a woman’s perspective.

At the next Foreign Affairs committee meeting, he took a stand for the women of the world. He told the members women were ready for men to “take their hands off legislation meant to empower them. After all, men were the ones who disempowered them in the first place.” He suggested that the female members of the committee have full control over the direction of the Woman’s International Empowerment Bill (WIE).

After his passionate speech was finished, the silence in the room was deafening – until Enoch took his seat. Then, the female representatives were on their feet one-by-one giving him a standing ovation. The men joined in as well.

When presented to the entire House of Representatives, the WIE Bill created enthusiasm on the floor. Enoch would not accept any credit for the success of the legislation. Instead, he gave it all to his wife. Sarah was proud of her husband. This simple act proved to her that this politician “gets it.”

Even though she was in the middle of leaving her law firm to start her own business, this move increased Sarah’s visibility and role in her husband’s political career. After the Bill’s passage, Enoch’s popularity soared with both genders. Once again, he affirmed that his success is largely dependent on his joint-partnership with his wife.

As he sits with Sarah at his thirty-second birthday dinner, he runs through options in his mind of how to best open a new topic of joint-partnership with her. She will play the bigger role in this one, and he needs her to be completely on board if there is even a slim chance of it succeeding.

He is a planner. She is a risk-taker. She is the one who puts their joint ventures into action. Before meeting her, Enoch believed that impulsiveness was the product of a lazy mind. He would quote to her, “The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Sarah showed him how hesitation is just as likely to cause an unfavorable outcome as haste. These days, he lays out a plan and she offers feedback. Ultimately, they agree she will be the one to pull the trigger on a new venture. Between the two, she is the one with the raw nerve for it.

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Triple Digit TOC by K.M. Sheridan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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