Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

How To Identify When You Are Too Devoted To Work

Chapter 1: My Corporate Idolatry Part 13

The last post describes first part of the Busting Your Corporate Idol: How To Reconnect With Values & Regain Control Of Your Life, which introduces the concept of Corporate Idolatry, and reviews the nature of both idolatry and corporations.  The middle part of the book, “The Corporate Ladder Revisited” tells stories from life in the corporate world, and examines three factors that contribute to a life of Corporate Idolatry.  According to the business ethics literature, unethical behavior at work can be because of unethical people, challenging circumstances, or an unethical corporate culture.  The same three factors lead the adoption of a company-first value system. Proper understanding of the interplay among people, circumstances, and corporate culture is essential in order to identify the causes of Corporate Idolatry, and then to set appropriate boundaries around your life.

Chapter 4 introduces Scorpions, Foxes, and Wolves, three types of people you must be able to identify if you are to know who to trust in the workplace.  The animal names come from the Aesop’s fable The Scorpion and the Frog, and from the parable the Fox and the Wolf.

“The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?” Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…” from

And if you think everything at work depends on you, Chapter 5 will burst your bubble.  Psychologists call it “The Illusion of Control,” and it can manifest in the workplace as a special kind of idolatry.  Chapter 6 tackles company culture, which like all cultures uses things like rules, traditions, myths, and rituals to perpetuate itself.

Here is a story from a company that ships radiolabeled isotopes for medical tests.  “Something went wrong with the reactor and the people on the night shift had to run in to the reactor to get [the isotype in order to make the shipment deadline.] They got 10 times the dose they legally should have.  It wasn’t driven by commercial gain.  It was driven by “oh we’ve go to do a good job.”

What are the stories from your company?

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  1. Greg Marcus says

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