I spent many years in the corporate world, predominantly in travel & tourism in the areas of Customer Service Delivery and Customer Experience and at the time I thoroughly enjoyed my work. There was nothing quite like seeing people enjoy every aspect of their vacation.
I’ve always been a believer in going the extra mile and giving more than is expected of me. This is just an internal principle that I inherited from my father, who was a prolifically hard worker. He taught us the importance of having a great work ethic, so going beyond the call of duty became a natural approach to work life.
Leadership demands that we pull our weight and be the example that we want to see. But there is also merit in demonstrating a sense of balance for those we lead. This is important because a leader who is driven to work all the hours God sends will probably expect the same from his/her team. Unfortunately, this is an expectation that leads to team burn out, lack of creativity and eventually diminishing returns.
But how much is too much?
There were definitely many points in my then career, when believed it was necessary for all hands to be on deck and it was important for me to support my team and organisation. But equally, there were times when I crossed the boundaries between going the extra mile and becoming a slave to the corporate rhythm. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying what you do. In fact having a passion for your work is vital. However, it’s important to know when too much is being given at the expense of other vital areas in your life.
So what are some of the vital signs and signals that you are possibly a little out of balance when it comes to your work?
- You work extensive hours every single day. Surely there’s a time when you must be able to down tools and go and do something different?
- You have minimal time for building relationships, spending time with family, friends and people who matter to you
- You feel guilty when you’re not working
- You don’t take time off because you feel something will go wrong if you’re not there
- Putting off or delaying your annual vacation is the rule and not the exception
- You feel overwhelmed with your tasks and work plans more than you feel excited and passionate about them
- You make excuses for why you need to check your phone and answer emails when you’re supposed to be taking time off
- You feel burned a lot more than you feel energised
- You have very little time for hobbies, fun or leisure
- You have very little time for reflection, down time and your own personal growth
If you’re feeling the majority of the symptoms listed above, the chances are you’ve crossed the thin line of giving your best, to doing yourself and your organisation an injustice. Why? Because we are much more able to operate at our optimum when we engage and give attention to other key areas in our lives that bring holistic fulfilment. In other words when you’re able to do the things you enjoy, you’re able to reinvent yourself, increase your creativity, productivity and add a much higher level of value.
I’m in no way saying that enjoying a job or career is not to be placed as an important factor in ones life. There is great meaning to be found in ones work, especially when it has moved from work to calling. What I am saying is, it’s in no way to take the place of all of the other valuable and necessary components of life.
So if you can identify yourself in many of the areas above, it’s time to make some changes toward a more holistic life. Ask yourself these questions…
What will I stop doing?
What will I start doing?
What do I need to change?
Leave me a comment if this post has been helpful, if you’re experiencing or have experienced this situation in the past. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And I hope you’ll join me again for the 3rd edition of this 4 part series on ‘Keys to Managing The Corporate Life’.