Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Is It Selfish To Become Less Devoted To The Company?

Chapter 1: My Corporate Idolatry Part 8

Change is often painful, and this was no exception.  Doing my part to help other people, and to help the group, is important to me.  I wondered if I were being selfish by pulling back from the company.  Messages at work about being a team player, reinforced this notion.  Doing less for the company meant doing less for the people on my team. Somehow, it didn’t seem right, until I came across the following, written by Rabbi Hillel ~2,000 years ago[1. Pirkei Avot 1:14]. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am only for myself, what am I?”

This was like a lightning bolt – of course I have a right to take care of myself. And my life got better.  When I cut back on my devotion to the company, it gave me space to allow many positive things to happen.

And, I was mentally prepared when I was laid off a year later.  If I had still been caught up in the company, I would have been devastated.  But I was exhilarated and my wife was thrilled.  I packed up my stuff, said a few goodbyes and drove up the Central Expressway to the Peninsula Creamery, where I had a burger medium rare and a milkshake with coffee ice cream and hot fudge.

The next two months were great, a paid vacation.  I went to the gym every morning, came home for lunch, took a nap, watched Star Trek and cooked dinner.  Not only was my blood pressure down, but life was much less stressful for my wife and kids too.

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    Do you know someone conflicted between home and work like? Please email them the link to this post.

  2. Deborah Lau says

    I’ll be sharing this-thank you!

  3. Greg Marcus says

    Thanks Deborah!


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