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A perennial issue: Work-Life-Balance

I have always found the term nonsensical: work is part of life and therefore it cannot be about the balance between work and life, but at best between work and leisure. Regardless of this linguistic inaccuracy, the discussion around the topic is a perennial issue, and not just since work-related stress and the resulting mental illnesses have become more frequent.

When I look back 10-15 years to my time in (very) large companies, I remember two rules that applied to all those who wanted to climb the career ladder: First - 'power = headcount x budget'. In other words, you should lead the largest possible teams and have the highest possible cost responsibility in order to be important. Secondly - 'Those who are successful have little time.' These two rules were of course linked and so the costly time of the most powerful and important people was managed by all kinds of supporters (drivers, executive assistants, CEO secretaries, etc.). The culture of being in a hurry permeated the other levels of the hierarchy and was only ignored by those who did not want to make a career but wanted to have their peace and quiet.

Actionism and busy schedules were the order of the day, even for those whose job didn't actually required it. I still remember a colleague who insiders knew had fallen out of favor within the company and had been sidelined without a proper role. He was still always in the office early in the morning and always hurried across the corridors. The appearance of a busy man had to be maintained.

I'm sure these characteristics still exist today, but the younger generation, who are often unfairly criticized for no longer being willing to work hard, rightly ask themselves: is it necessary or sensible to work 10 hours a day or more, even at weekends? I am convinced that this is not only not sensible, but harmful and hardly necessary anywhere.

Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose: If you follow Daniel Pink, these are the three ingredients that are most important for job satisfaction. If you can work autonomously, see a purpose in what you do and have the feeling that you are getting things done and growing with your tasks, work gives you strength instead of draining your energy. Then it's no longer about how much you work, but about finding a good rhythm: When do I need breaks? When am I particularly productive? When do I want to distract myself to change my perspective?

It's like your favorite sport: as much as you enjoy it, at some point you need a break. For example, I'm currently suffering from tennis elbow from too much padel tennis activity. It's great that I can now put more time back into my business and write blog posts, for example.

About the author

Dr. Sebastian Tschentscher finds the best digital minds for your company with his executive search boutique "Digital Minds".

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