The ‘Real Winners Of The World’ Don’t Have Work-Life Balance, They Have Work

The ‘Real Winners Of The World’ Don’t Have Work-Life Balance, They Have Work

Max Nisen | May 13, 2013, 10:00 PM | 6,284 | 20

For many, work-life balance is seen as the ultimate goal. For others, that mindset is hogwash that’s holding you back in your career. Taking time off for family or passions “can offer a nice life,” legendary GE CEO Jack Welch once told The Wall Street Journal. But he said that it lessens the chances for promotion or to reach the top of a career path. Welch is not the only one who believes this. Recently, Glencore Xstrata PC CEO Ivan Glasenberg argued that those executives who start to focus on family and hobbies will find themselves undercut and replaced by those who don’t. It’s easy to dismiss these attitudes as outdated, macho, and unreasonable. But it’s possible that people seeking work-life balance are just avoiding finding a way to work extremely hard, and be very happy about it.  Marty Nemko, a career coach, author, columnist, and radio host, argues that the most successful and contented people prefer a heavily work-centric life over work-life balance.

“The real winners of the world, the people that are the most productive, think that this notion of work-life balance is grossly overrated,” Nemko told Business Insider. “Most of the highly successful and not-burned out people I know work single-mindendly towards a goal they think is important, whether it’s developing a new piece of software, inventing something, or a cardiologist who’s seeing patients on nights and weekends instead of playing Monopoly with his kids on the weekend.””Don’t blame the hours,” Nemko says. “If somebody says they got burned out working 70 hours a week it’s because they weren’t competent enough to do the work..” These people, who are “out-of balance” in the usual sense of the word, find motivation and satisfaction in devoting themselves to something and making a difference. That comes with a caveat of course. Sleep is non-negotiable. “If you need your eight hours, you get it,” Nemko says. If you sleep eight hours a night, that still leaves you a hundred hours a week. “The pool of people that do not have work-life balance feel efficacious — are efficacious in the world — are making a difference, and are making more money,” Nemko says. He argues that many people who champion work-life balance aren’t overworked, but are using the term as a politically correct tool, as a smokescreen for the desire to not do work. So rather than focusing on work-life balance, focus on being in the moment, on giving everything at work instead of imagining relaxing at home on the weekend. And if you can’t bring yourself to work 70 hours now and then, or it feels like torture, you’re probably at the wrong job. Even startup founders, known for working incredible hours under a lot of stress, shouldn’t blame burnout on a lack of work-life balance. “Don’t blame the hours,” Nemko says. “If somebody says they got burned out working 70 hours a week it’s because they weren’t competent enough to do the work, they hired the wrong people, or the product they were working on wasn’t good enough, and they were trying to make it work when they really shouldn’t have.”

The search for work-life balance has become gospel in recent years. But depending on who you ask, sometimes it can become an excuse.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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