One of the things I commonly say to high performers is
When you live on the edge, sometimes you’ll fall off
it’s from a lifetime of trying to succeed.
One of the things that was a recurring theme of my work 5-10 years ago, as a senior technical leader at IBM, and as part of the professional review board for both Senior Consulting IT Specialist, and IBM Distinguished Engineer, work/life balance. Google has thousands of links to blogs, articles and books on it.
One of the most interesting experiences I had on work/life balance, was down in Australia. After presenting on professional development, and high performance engineering, I was asked about work life balance. What the questioner said was, and I remember it clearly to this day:
Australians work to live, they don’t live to work, how do you see us being able to achieve the same results?
I was floored. Truth is I didn’t know. Gladwells book Outliers, most people focus on the 10,000 hours as a total, but miss the point that for many, that 10,000 hours that Gladwell calls out, comes in a short period of time, often at a huge impact to other aspects of our lives.
This week I came across this blog by Chris Oxford, CEO of the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. Oxford says:
It is not just the hours you put in at work; it’s that it owns your head. You think about work in the shower and on vacation, and you get lost in all of the ideas while you are sitting at dinner. It is exciting and dangerous.
and nails it when he says
I loved my family, I felt good about what we were doing at work, and I assumed I could maintain the balance. Five years later, I had three Inc. 500 plaques hanging on my wall — and I was divorced. This is the danger of the balance propaganda. You think you can have it all, and you wind up losing what means most to you.
Think you are different? Think you can have it all? Think again. Those that appear to have it all, especially politicians who are held to some higher value, don’t. They are either cheating their constituents, cheating their family, or cheating on their partner. Cheating doesn’t require another person, it requires a mistress called work.