Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Do You Practice Corporate Idolatry? Look where you spend your time.


Which is more important to you?

Things or people?
Your company or your family?
Your status or your health?
Before you answer, think about where you spend your time.


Each day, your time goes into one of 3 categories: sleep, work, or life (which is everything that isn’t either sleep or work).  I’ve created a graph for my Time Profile as it was a few years ago. I worked 14 hours a day.  I didn’t get enough sleep. I was out of shape and overweight.  I was stressed and irritable.

If you asked me the questions above, I would have said my family was the most important thing to me, and my health was more important than status.  But I spent all my time working or thinking about work.  The numbers don’t lie – the company was the most important thing to me in my life.

And objectively, the decisions I made were in favor of the company over my family.  The most egregious example came on the 4th of July in 2005, when I spent several hours on a conference call. Even worse, I was at a resort for a family reunion.

What kind of an asshole schedules a conference call for the 4th of July?  That would be me. I was leading the project, and we needed to make an October launch date.  We were going to revolutionize medicine.  We needed to beat the competition to market, and we needed to make the revenue number.  And I wanted to be promoted.  (For those of you keeping score, we made the launch date, we missed the number, and I was not promoted.)

One definition of idolatry is excessive devotion or blind obedience.  I define Corporate Idolatry as excessive devotion or blind obedience to one’s corporate employer. My actions met both definitions.

Idolatry is a really big deal in a religious context, but it matters even more in the secular context.  The details of why is the subject of a future post.  Here’s the short version:  Idolatry puts things in front of people, and that is a recipe for a shorter and less happy life.


  1. If you relate to this post, check out my book Busting Your Corporate Idol: Self Help for the Chronically Overworked on Amazon.


  1. […] a post about Corporate Idolatry and time allocation.  If your time allocation looks looks like this, there are not many hours to build a community outside of […]

  2. […] Nevertheless, managers and executives can choose their level of devotion to the company.  It is one thing to be professional, and to do the best job you can do.  It is quite another to make the company the top priority, ahead of family and personal health.  As I have written previously, overly identifying with the company and a company-first value system are signs of Corporate Idolatry. […]

  3. […] what does all this have to do with idolatry?  As a reminder, I’ve defined corporate idolatry as the adoption of a value system that puts the company ahead of all else, including your family […]