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This Blog is about Workaholics. 

The Hum

I saw this amazing video on Ted Talk by Shonda Rhimes. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, she’s the writer behind TV-series like Grey’s Anatomy and How to get away with Murder. She talks about how she loves to work – she calls it the hum – but also how she got a burn-out and how she got over it. Check out this TedTalk, it’s really impressive.

Loving what you do (and doing what you love) is the right recipe for a long-lasting career. But the pitfall is that we exaggerate and do not find the right dosage. Success is addictive. So the more you get it, the more you want it. And this is a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape.
We all know workaholics. Maybe you are one yourself. I am work. Work is me. And in fact, that is probably not true.
At the end of your Life you might look back and say: yeah, I did that. Yeah, I’ve been there. But work is probably not the most important part of your life satisfaction, or happiness. It’s about relations. It’s about who you have been to others. It’s about your relevance as a parent, a friend, a person. Shonda Rhimes refers to this as the Life Hum.

There will always be workaholics.

And there will be always a benefit of working hard. No sweat no play. There will always be workaholics too. And this is where companies should take heed. Workaholism might be beneficial. People do excess time. They produce a lot. But this is all short-time. Workaholics neglect their social relationships. Workaholics are triggered by high job demands, but not by warnings about their health. Let’s not make the mistake to confuse workaholism with engagement. Engagement is sustainable. Workaholism isn’t. But engaged people can become workaholics and they can fall in the dead-end of burnout.
Shonda Rhimes has a simple recipe. Say yes to things that are important but are outside work. Find the hum of Life. The better you are at doing that, the more you will feel and appreciate (again) the hum of work.
 

More Information

You can find more about workaholism here: http://www.wilmarschaufeli.nl/publications/Schaufeli/288.pdf
And here’s the link to the book Shonda Rhimes wrote: The Year of Yes.
 
The picture is the Düsseldorf Skyline taken from the old Harbor.

David Ducheyne is the founder of Otolith. As a former HR and business leader he focuses now on humanising strategy execution.

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