Overwork — or Flow?

I put in 12-14 hours of work on Monday, then again on Tuesday, then again on Wednesday.  And I loved it.  Not just enjoyed it – loved it.  Couldn’t get enough.

Am I a workaholic?  I don’t think so.

It’s this radio show.  On Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 5pm Pacific, my business partner and I launch “The Boss Show” – a weekly radio show for anyone who is or has a boss.  Workplace wisdom with heart and humor.  And I haven’t been so excited about a work project in ages.

It’s a huge endeavor, launching a radio show. And as I was working into the late hours of the evening, I was tapped into the creativity of it, the sense of accomplishment, the expectation of service, the expression of purpose – in ways that wouldn’t let me stop until I practically started dreaming awake.

“The Boss Show” — a weekly radio show for anyone who is or has a boss — premieres at 5pm Pacific on Wednesday, Feb. 2, on KKNW, 1150-AM, streamed live on 1150KKNW.com

But, you say, what about work-life balance?  Sure, I say, reasons abound not to overwork:

  • If you have to put in 60 hours a week in order to feel good about yourself, you’ve got a psychological issue you ought to address.  Ain’t a spiritual teaching in the world that says you are what you produce.
  • If you have to put in 60 hours a week just to keep your head above water, you’ve either got too much in your job description, or too little skill to handle it, or you’re not delegating enough.  All can and must be remedied.
  • If working those extra hours is consistently stressful (it wasn’t for me this week), that’s not sustainable.  What is it worth to you to maintain a healthy body and a healthy psyche?  Not many of us, on our deathbeds, wish we’d spent an hour more every day answering work email.

But work itself doesn’t cause stress.  Not even 12 hours a day of it.  It’s your response to the work that causes the stress.  Is fear, anger, or frustration running you while you work?

Now for most of us, 12-14 hours of work every day, over the long term, would mean we’re escaping or ignoring our relationships, other responsibilities, or the activities that offer us physical or psychological health.

Tell us what you think.  We’d like our blog posts to begin a dialogue.  We eagerly welcome your comments and questions.

But if none of that applies … if in a burst of productivity or creativity you are following your bliss into absorption, and the time flies and you’re no worse off afterwards … then I say go for it.  This is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously referred to as Flow – the peak experience that makes life worth living.

I’ll always remember this intense time — the time I spent creating “The Boss Show.”

And I’m gonna take the weekend off.  Soon as I post this on the blog.  I’ll raise a glass of wine to you.

About the Author

Steve Motenko
Steve Motenko is an executive coach, leadership trainer, and co-host of The Boss Show, a weekly podcast on workplace dynamics. Steve and his Boss Show co-host, Jim Hessler, are co-authors of Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guide to Building Your Leadership Platform. Steve lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, with his wife and dog, whom he loves, and a cat he tolerates usually pretty well.

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