Ursula Burns: ‘Chill out a little bit’

Oct 17, 2013

FORTUNE -- Xerox CEO and chairman Ursula Burns took on the having-it-all debate head-on at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit on Thursday, saying that when it comes down to it, we all just need to chill out.

“As long as I’ve been alive discussing this, and even before, this concept of having it all -- that’s not the point,” she said. Pick the places where you want to be great, focus your energies there, and then go do it, she added. Understand “you’re not going to be great at everything, and then relax,” she said.

She told the crowd of power players that it amazes her how much stress and insanity we put on ourselves. Over time she realized that pressure had rubbed off on her kids. “Now I’m like chill out a little bit,” she said.

MORE: Complete coverage of the Most Powerful Women Summit

In hindsight, the one thing she would have done differently is have more kids. “I realize now there is more value and fun and accomplishment and real joy when I hang out with my daughter and son and two nieces,” she said.

Burns is also trying to take a more Zen approach to her business, saying that she’s tried to ban the word "transformation" from every speech she’s made. “I want to stop transforming and just start being,” she said.

One hundred thousand of Xerox’s (xrx) 140,000 employees came to the company through acquisition, and Burns has had to focus on the commonalities rather than the differences -- unless they were egregiously bad. “You can’t do it by saying, Everybody stop this and start this,” she said. “It has to morph and get to a point that’s more natural than laws or rules.”

Burns also offered up her view on the government shutdown, saying that the dysfunction is like a family that has an internal problem -- it’s hard for people from the outside to get in to fix it. Burns noted that we would “be thrown out on our butts” if we ran anything this way, including our families. “Agencies would take our children away,” she said.

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