Thomas felt very productive at the end of his work day. He had crammed in 6 meetings, and rushed through a myriad of tasks and phone calls and gotten them done before heading for the gym. He felt really good about himself. He was the guy that knew exactly what was going on in the business, and without his input the business would be lost. That is why he had not taken a vacation in 4 years. The business simply could not function without him! However, Thomas did not mind, because he thought that the faster his pace of life, the more value he had as a person. Thus he desperately tried to cram as much as possible into his days.
Unfortunately Thomas confused being busy with being productive. He had lost sight of the business goals, and as a manager, had forgotten that his task should have been facilitating the workflow instead of actually doing the work himself.
Ralph Keyes stated that: “Only by stepping back can we spot … how addictive it is to be rushed and busy. … Business can keep us from having to reflect, risk intimacy, or face the void. … We’re never forced to ask ourselves what really matters.
Ernie J Zelinski, in his book titled The Joy of Not Working, defines peak performers and workaholics this way:
A peak performer (ie. someone who is productive) is someone who…
- Works regular hours
- Has defined goals
- Delegates as much as possible
- Has many interests outside of work
- Takes and enjoys vacations
- Has deep friendships outside of work
- Minimizes conversation about work matters
- Can enjoy “goofing off.”
- Feels life is a celebration.
A workaholic, on the other hand, is someone who…
- Works long hours
- Has no defined goals (works simply for the sake of working)
- Cannot delegate work to others
- Has no interest outside of work
- Misses vacations to work
- Always talks about work matters
- Is always busy doing something
- Feels life is difficult.
Unfortunately for Thomas, a year later his company hit the rocks. No amount of blind activity could save it from disaster. What a pity he had not taken to heart the words of Plato: In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.