Do Not Call Me A Workaholic

Jim Blasingame If someone referred to you as an alcoholic would you feel complimented? Obviously not. The next time someone calls you a workaholic, before your head starts swelling, remember that this word has its root in the word alcoholic.

I am not an expert on the subject of alcoholism, but in my experience an alcoholic is someone who is so dependent on alcohol that it is the central focus of his life. Even if he is able to work and otherwise function relatively productively in society, this dependence is so pervasive that everything else is subordinate. If you are an alcoholic you are at risk of losing your physical, mental and spiritual well-being, as well as the loss of family and livelihood.

I am somewhat more of an expert on workaholism. I believe a workaholic is so dependent on his work that it becomes the central focus of his life. If you are a workaholic you are at risk of losing your physical, mental and spiritual well-being, as well as the loss of your family.

Notice the similarities? I have witnessed workaholics whose lives were affected just as negatively by their condition as an alcoholic is by his condition.

You may argue that, as is evident in my two definitions, a workaholic is different from an alcoholic in that he typically will not lose his livelihood. It's true that professional and financial success are often associated with a workaholic, but my rebuttal to that is that I have known very successful people who, as a result of being workaholics, are also very dead.

Don't forget this: Dead people can't enjoy success.

The Speed Trap
Our friend and Brain Trust Member, Joseph Bailey, wrote a book called, The Speed Trap, in which he says, "speed has become our god." I think he's right. Joe says to conquer this god, we should "slow down to the speed of life".

You've heard me talk about market velocity. This phenomenon actually becomes a whirlwind that sucks you into it and takes you away from your grounding - the really important components of your life, like your family, your health, and your spirit - and substitutes them for things that the "speed god" has convinced you are important. I think this whirlwind is the vehicle that transports us to the realm of workaholism.

Trust me: Being A Workaholic Is Not A Good Thing
If someone calls you a workaholic, they can mean it in either a complimentary, or an uncomplimentary way. How could the same reference be good in some cases and bad in others? Well, I think most people use the term incorrectly. What they mean when they intend it as a compliment, and what they should say, is that you are industrious, hard working, ambitious, entrepreneurial, passionate, etc.

I'm not playing word games. I believe the literal and correct use of the term workaholic is a pejorative reference. My strict interpretation indicates that you have become so compelled by your work that it becomes your primary focus in life, and virtually everything else becomes subordinate.

Don't Call Me a Workaholic
Thinking they were paying me a compliment, friends have suggested that I was a workaholic. Thinking them wrong, I have disagreed by responding that, in my opinion, a workaholic is someone who forsakes everything in favor of their work. Whatever success I have had was not at the expense of either my health, my family, or my spirit.

As I have said, I am not an expert on alcoholism. But I know a little bit about workaholics, and I know that neither condition is desirable. Both can cost you dearly, perhaps everything.

Write this on a rock...Of course, you should strive to be successful in your business. And that means you will have to work very hard, make sacrifices, be ambitious, and on, and on. But keep things in perspective. Believe it or not, your business is not the most important thing in your world. Your family, your health, and your spirit are infinitely more important. Now turn the computer off and go hug your kids! Yes, right now!!

©2003 All Rights Reserved

Category: Work-Life, Balance
Print page