Last week, our company was named Small Business of the Year by our local Chamber of Commerce. I didn’t accept the award. Ok, technically I did, because someone from our company represented our business, but I didn’t personally go to the ceremony.Tennis Picture

Why? It was no big political statement or anything controversial; we were, in fact, thrilled to be honored. It’s just that when I saw the date of the event, I realized it conflicted with watching one of my sons coach another one of my sons at his first ever State Championship.

I chose family.

To be honest, ten or fifteen years ago, I don’t think I would’ve made the same choice. Back then, I often felt like I couldn’t or shouldn’t say no to work-related events. I spent my older daughter’s 16th birthday in London—not with her on a fabulous trip, but with a client. Early in my career, I accompanied my husband to a conference in Florence (Italy, not Kentucky). Because I had just started a new job, I didn’t have much vacation time; so rather than ask for a couple extra days, I traveled home from the trip alone, taking a midnight train (to Milan, not to Georgia) to be able to take a cheaper flight home.

The train station at 1 a.m. is a little scary, but not nearly as scary as the cab ride from it to the airport, where I was fairly certain I would be robbed, raped, or killed as the driver “got lost” and ended up charging me $100. Obviously, I survived the trip, but today I would never have made that same choice. I would have chosen family and asked for those additional days with my husband.

I staunchly believe that mothers can work outside the home, but I have learned that doesn’t mean we have to say yes to everything work-related while saying no to important family events. I have learned that when we are confident in our contributions at work, we can confidently say yes to some activities and no to others.

So, when I heard six weeks ago about our award (please imagine having to keep that a secret for this long, by the way!), I told the Chamber that I would miss the award presentation breakfast. And I told them why, because I believe that part is important. I know some would argue that a man would never say why; he would just miss it (actually one of my close friends said this to me). But I personally feel like saying “I chose to support my son at an event that is important to him rather than accepting an award for myself,” models what we at Magnet coach our clients to do.

Be authentic to your values.

Be transparent.

Be a servant leader.

And when you do the right thing, you don’t need to apologize for doing it.