Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Meet a Balanced Achiever At Work

Chapter 7: Secure Your Identity Part 9

“Sebastian Tate” describes himself as an outlier in the business world, not because of his results, but because of his priorities. Meet a balanced achiever at work.

“I never had the drive to be President or VP.  I made that decision pretty early.  [For me] work needed to be interesting.  If I’m doing work I don’t find interesting, I’ll go look for another job.  I’ve always made decent money, and I’m not an extravagant person, so I never felt like I needed to make a lot more money because I needed to have more stuff.  If for whatever reason [work] gets out of balance because you get a shitty situation, I start looking for another job, to find a situation that works for me.  I may be different than a number of people that you talk to, that want to be king of the universe.  But that’s why I’m still doing product management at 50.”

Sebastian is tall and wiry, with close-cropped hair, and a slow, deliberate speaking style that can drive an East-coaster like me crazy at times.  But he has that Buddhist calm that makes you want to listen.  I asked Sebastian if he ever felt work-related guilt.

“Guilt is something that you impose upon yourself.  You either accept it or reject it.  I always found it pretty easy to reject it.  If someone comes to me with a last minute request because they did a shitty ass job planning, and then try to make me feel guilty, it isn’t going to happen. I don’t know where I was when I learned it, but I learned to try to replace guilt with responsibility.  It’s a much healthier emotion.”

Note: This post is an excerpt from Busting Your Corporate Idol: Self Help for the Chronically Overworked, a 5 Star Amazon Best Seller in the Work Life Balance Category. Learn more.

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Ever Work Till Midnight But Feel Guilty About Leaving the Office At 5?

Chapter 5: The Roll Of Circumstance Part 14

In that last post, Mary came back from maternity leave to find herself at a disadvantage because many of the key decisions were made after hours.  And moreover, her subordinates kept going directly to her boss, as they had done when she was out.

What was worse, Mary had to defend those decisions to the rest of the department.  “To sit in all hands meetings where senior managers were pointing fingers, and then I am the one who has to stand up and defend decisions I wasn’t making.  That got really old.  That and the hours.   The sheer amount of work.  I was putting the kids to bed, and [working] up to midnight every night.”

One of Mary’s team left for another role in the company, and she was quickly overwhelmed.  “I couldn’t hire quickly enough.  There were a couple of months where I was working 80+ hour weeks.  I would ask my husband to take the kids to the zoo on Saturday so I could have the whole day to catch up.”

Nowhere in this part of the conversation did Mary mention love or devotion to the company.  It was no longer about a family atmosphere, or changing the world and in fact, I don’t think she even liked the company. Mary was driven by other factors.  She worked each night until midnight, often worked a full day on Saturday, yet felt guilty about leaving work at 5.  “I think I thought I was going to get fired.  It was right after the merger, and there was all this pressure.  All these managers from Boston who wanted to know what was going on.  The pressure was crazy.”  To further compound the stress, Mary was the sole breadwinner.  “If I got fired from my job, I didn’t see the monthly bills [getting paid]; everyone was on my  [health] insurance.”


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