It’s one of the worst kept secrets in American culture. While we frown upon obesity and addiction, we often praise workaholics and treat them as the heroes of the 21st Century.
Workaholism is a vice. It’s an unhealthy imbalance. Yet how many Prime Time tv series focus on a doctor, lawyer, or detective who works late into the night every night, to the detriment of their families? It’s become the most cliche character type in our day.
Most of us will never be doctors. We’ll never be detectives. And we’ll definitely never be lawyers. But we watch these shows because we live vicariously through the dramatized excitement of their professions. Careers where lives hang in the balance every single day. It makes the mundane workday seem so exciting. You can never phone it in because someone needs surgery or an acquittal.
None of it’s real, of course. Those are our tv lives. Whether we answer phones, write code, take blood samples, or balance accounts, our day to day work is often the stuff that daydreams are formed to escape from.
There’s a growing number of bored and unchallenged employees who’ve become fans of real-life entrepreneurs. Mythical business heroes like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Mark Zuckerburg. These people rose from the ranks of everyday high school and college students and took big risks that paid off years down the road. And we who are stuck in jobs we don’t like doing work that doesn’t fulfill us look to those people and live vicariously through them. Just like I imagine teenage girls live through the constant tweets and shows and articles on the Kardashians.
I don’t track the everyday nature of most entrepreneur’s lives, but I know many of them work nonstop from dawn til dusk. They rarely if ever take vacations. They’re driven to arrive at a destination they’ve envisioned.
I’m not saying don’t learn from them. I’m not even saying don’t emulate them. I just question where the line is. You know… That line where temporary hard work to achieve a major goal blurs over into working long and hard all the time as the definition and destination of one’s life.