I recently read a post on the Harvard Business Review Blog entitled, Workaholics Need Boundaries, Not Balance. The author, Ed Batista, is an executive coach and instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He teaches high potential graduate students in one of our most competitive institutions, and coaches exectuives in Corporate America. His premise is that workaholism is a given for those seeking a corner office in our American business culture.
In my 25 years growing a $100 M business, I found this premise to be accepted at face value in most of the Corporate cultures I encountered. My father was a workaholic, and my older brother struggled with balance. I tried to maintain balance, and at most, created some healthy boundaries, as the author suggests.
We represented heavy equipment manufacturers that were global enterprises. Most of those who succeeded in reaching the "C" suite (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc) had abandoned any attempt at balance in pursuit of 'success.' Most of them were on their second marriages, and had grown children who hardly knew them.
As I began to study Structural Thinking with Robert Fritz, I discovered my own drive and ambition came from a negative place. I was subconsciously trying to prove myself, and overcome the feelings of ‘not good enough’ that my father instilled in me as a child. So I fell into the trap of chasing success. What I discovered through my structural work with Fritz was that I was living under an obligation to prove myself, and much of my behavior was motivated from this structure.
I find most of the young professionals and entrepreneurs I mentor and coach are part of a generation that is truly seeking balance and purpose in life. They are struggling with the business culture that demands an unbalanced focus on work, to the neglect of family, children, and a deep relationship with God.
My own structural consulting work with these high-potential leaders helps uncover these subconscious motivations that drive behavior in unwanted directions. Once people become consciously aware of the structures operating beneath the surface, they can shift to a healthier, more abundant life. See how these structures can limit your spiritual growth in this post.
1. Temporal boundaries: times exclusively for family, friends, and other non-work pursuits
2. Physical boundaries: get out of the office and create physical distance from work
3. Cognitive boundaries: work to be in the moment, resisting the temptation to obsess with work and not be emotionally present for our family and friends.
In a companion piece, Batista suggests Learning to Say No is Part of Success. For those of you who struggle with achieving balance, this may offer some helpful tactics to protect your relationships with family and friends. For those seeking to move beyond workaholism, deeper work may be needed. If you struggle to really enjoy sabbath rest, you may not be fully abiding in Jesus. Jesus promises to lead his followers on a path to abundant life. Good luck finding it on the way to the corner office. My own mind was way too preoccupied with success to seek the deep relationship with Jesus that offers an abundant life. May it not be so for you.