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What to do when your relationship is going downhill
U.S. Olympic Bobsledders Nic and Elana Meyers Taylor
For most couples, feeling their relationship was going downhill would be a problem. But for Nic Taylor and Elana Meyers Taylor, it’s business as usual.
- Two-career couple
- Picking up the slack for each other
- Boundaries between work and home
- Supporting each other’s goals
- On whether they’d do anything differently
For most couples, feeling their relationship was going downhill would be a problem. But for Nic Taylor and Elana Meyers Taylor, it’s business as usual. They are U.S. Olympic bobsledders who are in South Korea for the Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Elana has qualified for Team USA as a pilot and Nic has been named an alternate brakeman for the men’s team.
Deloitte University managing director Heidi Soltis-Berner—who knows a thing or two about working in the same organization with your spouse, where her husband Dan Berner is an audit partner—chatted with Nic and Elana recently. In between bursts of knowing laughter, they discovered that the bobsledders aren’t the only ones who have to navigate tricky turns together.
On picking up the slack for each other
Elana: During the season, sometimes we’d race together over a weekend and I’ve got my 2-man race before my 4-man race. As a pilot of both sleds, I have responsibilities. But Nic is taking on extra responsibilities for the 4-man to make sure I can do what I need to do with the 2-man race. I tend to be hesitant to ask my teammates to take on extra responsibilities because in the bobsledding world, as a driver you’re the leader of the sled–the captain of your ship. So if you’re asking for a whole bunch of things from others, it could appear like you’re not strong enough to handle all of the things a pilot’s supposed to handle.
Nic: I understand being a leader in any kind of professional setting is tough. Being one of the first female leaders in the 4-man bobsled event is extremely difficult. Anything I can do for Elana to help her along, I try to be proactive.
Heidi: Wow, that was like listening to my husband! We’ve gotten to know each other quite well over 21 years of marriage, and the other one steps in even though you think you don’t need them to. Dan will say, “I CAN help you with that, you know.” and I’ll be, “I’m good,” but he knows me and he’ll help out. And I’ll do the same for him.
Nic: (Laughing) I really like this Dan guy.
Heidi: Me too.
On the boundaries between work and home
Elana: Nic and I compete together, work together, and live together. He coaches me on my performance. But when we get home, you know how much time we talk about bobsled?
Nic: We don’t. In our home, we call it “the B-word.” We set aside times to debrief or to go over SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. And then after that, we shut down talk of anything bobsled-related and focus on ourselves and our lives.
Heidi: It’s “the D-word” for Deloitte in our house. We’ll have certain times when one of us will say, “Hey, I need to talk to you for 10 minutes about work” and then we’re done. It’s helped tremendously.
"We set aside times to debrief or to go over SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis."
– Nic Taylor, U.S. Olympic Bobsledder
On supporting each other’s goals
Heidi: One of the things our CEO does is encourages a culture of courage: To push the envelope, take the next step. In my case, it was a leap of courage to say yes when I got a call on a Saturday asking if I’d be at Deloitte University (DU) on Wednesday to be the interim leader of DU. Elana, when you wanted to change the status quo and be one of the first female pilots, where did you find the courage to do that?
Elana: Luckily, I’m surrounded by great people like Nic and my family who encourage me to go after new challenges. Four-man is the highlight event of a bobsled competition, and women have historically only raced in 2-man sleds. But, it didn’t make sense that I couldn’t compete in 4-man because of my gender. I wanted to challenge myself and now I have an opportunity to make a difference.
When I took this on, I already had an Olympic silver medal in 2-man. But I got some pushback – people asking me crazy questions about my skills. Whenever you’re a trailblazer and introducing something that is new it can come with skepticism. In my first team trials, I had a challenge finding teammates to race with me. So I called Nic, who was in Arizona working, and he said: “I’ll come.” Now I had an ally! As soon as I got him, people wanted to push with Nic. So then I got the other two in the sled, no problem.
Heidi: So Nic is not just your fabulous husband; he was your ally who helped you get where you wanted to go
Nic: That might be the best part. There’s sometimes a stigma that women aren’t great drivers. But Elana is a phenomenal driver who has competed right along with the men.
On whether they’d do anything differently
Heidi: One last question: Reflecting on your first three years of being a dual-career couple, anything you’d do differently?
Nic: That’s a very good question.
Heidi: I always love when people come to Dan and me with that question. We have the exact same reaction you did—what should we say? You pick your battles and the sacrifices and choices you make. I believe things always happen for a reason.
Nic: Personally, I would not change a thing. I’ve enjoyed our paths so much so far. In life, sometimes things go well and sometimes not, but we work together to make the most out of any situation.
Elana: I would change one thing actually. I would have taken more time to celebrate things and enjoy each other. Sometimes when you’re both working on high-level goals, you don’t take time out to celebrate. Last year I won a world championship and I don’t think we did anything special to acknowledge the moment.
We’ve been around the world together and seen some really good things but we’re so laser-focused, I don’t know that we’ve taken the time to really celebrate. I love where we’re at and love us as a couple but it’s also important to take a step back and just enjoy those moments when you celebrate together.
Heidi: Hopefully you’ll have more reasons to celebrate soon.
"I love where we’re at and love us as a couple but it’s also important to take a step back and just enjoy those moments when you celebrate together."
– Elana Meyers Taylor, U.S. Olympic Bobsledder