Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Archives for September 2014

Lessons From Overworked Teens

Overworked teens

Overworked teens

Last night in a mini-Torah study, we discussed the story of the binding of Isaac. As you may recall, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. At the very last minute, when the knife is in the air, God sends an Angel to tell Abraham that he passed the test, and he doesn’t need to actually harm the boy. We argued whether despite appearances, Abraham was being a good parent by following God’s commands.

So what does this have to do with overworked teens today? For me, this is a story of power relationships. Abraham felt powerless to refuse God’s commands, just as Isaac felt powerless to try to prevent his impending death. Today’s teens are unbelievably over-scheduled, which is why teen anxiety and depression are at record high levels. They are kids, and it doesn’t occur to them that they can say no to activities, especially when the activities are fun. On top of that, they are told they need to be in the hardest classes, and “stand out” to get into the top schools. And without the top schools, they will be at a significant disadvantage in the working world. The data do not support these myths. Sadly, many of these messages come directly or indirectly from parents and teachers.
My views on teen overwork are radical. I see it as a social justice issue. These kids are put in a position where their health is at risk for a perceived gain that isn’t real. As parents and citizens, we have a duty to protect our kids from our own anxiety about the future. And one way to do this is to model good behavior when it comes to the number of hours we work. The kids are aping the behavior they see in the overworked adults all around them. While they can’t choose, we can.
The next time you hear someone recognized for outstanding work because they “sacrificed family time” for a work project, think back to the story of Isaac. Is the sacrifice really needed to meet the objective, or is it a test of loyalty?
To help cut back your own hours, try the list of 5 things with an accountability partner.
Be sure to include a rock solid stop time. It will motivate you to do the important things, and not to let them slide because you can always sacrifice the home time to get everything done.

Ray Rice: Defective NFL Product?

Janay Palmer & Ray Rice

Now wife, Janay Palmer and Raven’s suspended footlball player, Ray Rice

I’m on my home from the latest workshop by my coach Steve Harrison. Had a chance to meet Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Wow, what an amazing experience.

It was an interesting experience learning how better to serve people through writing and coaching against the backdrop of the Ray Rice story. My understanding is that abusive people were themselves abused. It is my hope that this incident can help Mr. Rice break the cycle of abuse, both for himself and for others.

I watched the video. It was very disturbing. If you haven’t seen it, I think you should watch it Ray Rice Knocked Out Fiancee – FULL VIDEO. It will change your understanding of domestic violence forever. It won’t be theoretical, and it won’t be Hollywood. It is brutal. Watching the video could help you change someone’s life some day. You might hear a whisper, or notice something in someone you know, and instead of brushing it off, you’ll remember that image of Jinay getting knocked unconscious.

As for why the NFL and the Ravens gave Rice a slap on the wrist before the video came to light? I am befuddled by the handwringing. The NFL is a business. Ray Rice is the product. The domestic violence wasn’t seen as a human issue, it was a business issue.  Rice was a product with some characteristics that would make some customers mad.

I’ve been in those discussions. The product isn’t working quite right. Should we ship?

“No product is ever done.”

“There is a work around.”

“We need the revenue now, and will pick up the pieces later.”

Right or wrong does not come into play when it comes to these product shipment decisions. They are business decisions. In the case of the NFL, the products are people. We need to remember to put people first, always.

As I write this post on the plane, I watched an inspirational speech from James Brown, football host on CBS. Brown explained that domestic violence is not a football issue, and is not a woman’s issue. He pointed out that 3 women die every day from domestic violence, and called on men to step up and take responsibility. “You need to either get help [for yourself] or give help [to end domestic violence.]

Bravo James Brown. Real men do not hurt women, and we’ll take your challenge to become part of the solution.

Why You Want to be Joan Rivers in your Office

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010 via Flickr CC

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010 via Flickr CC

Today a guest post from Achim Nowak, President & Founder of INFLUENS.

I read his weekly energy boost religiously, and this week’s post was so good that I asked permission to republish it here as a guest post. Thank you Achim! You can subscribe to Achim Nowak’s weekly energy boost here

Raw and fearless

In the onslaught of tributes to comedienne Joan Rivers, these are the adjectives I hear most often.

Raw and fearless.

To people who didn’t like her, Joan Rivers was crass, loud, unabashedly insensitive. Too much.

I liked Joan Rivers. A lot.

One thing was abundantly clear as I watched the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: Rivers was first and foremost an entertainer. She lived to be on-stage. She abhorred not being on-stage.

We are not all entertainers. We are all, however, on stage. All the time.

I get frustrated with the professional who doesn’t embrace that.

The one who doesn’t care enough to” show up.”

Dick Axelrod, author and organizational consultant, delineates two types of meeting participants: Meeting investors and meeting bystanders.

Joan Rivers was an investor.

Raw and fearless was her currency.

Rivers showed up. Big time.

Raw and fearless has, in most business environments, been replaced by polite and fearful.

Even folks who yearn to invest act like a bystander.

Polite and fearful will not get you there.

It simply doesn’t work when you’re on-stage.

I don’t encourage insensitivity. And yeah, raw and fearlessmay be “too much” where you work.

Pick your own currency. Choose how you invest.

What would be “more” without being “too much?”

Bold and inquisitive?

Curious and provocative?

Courageous and surprising?

Probing and opinionated?

Fearless and committed?

Choose to be an investor. Pick your currency. Two adjectives.

Know that polite and fearful will not get you there.

Two adjectives is all it takes.

When you show up at your meetings this week, embody your currency.

You likely won’t sound like Joan Rivers.

But you will instantly BE an investor. You will energize those around you. And you will energize yourself.

Now, that’s not too shabby, is it?

Thank you again Achim for allowing me to reprint your energy boost on The Idolbuster.

You can subscribe to Achim Nowak’s weekly energy boost here