Taking Different Liberties

Statue of Liberty, Pont de Grenelle; One of many in France.

I held what was an attempt at an interview with my coaches Simon Dewasmes (left) and Cyprien Beurnier (right).

The interview went really well.

Me: Do you have any hobbies? Things you like to do?

Blank stares.

Me: Do you do anything interesting?

Cyprien: *Long breath* I guess I could talk about my children. Since I became a father, a few years ago, I don’t really do anything interesting anymore. But I could tell you a story about what happened today: I have to bring baby formula to my child’s daycare so they have something to feed them. Today, I forgot to tell my wife to get the formula so I received a phone call telling me that the daycare didn’t receive formula from me and therefore my child wouldn’t eat today. Luckily, my brother lives in the same building so I called him and he brought it, so my child would be able to eat.

And Simon gave his own response.

Simon: I like to not ride horses.

0/100 Points for Participation.

However, the point of that horrible, horrible story was that an important part of Cyprien’s life is raising his children. He also expressed that he made a deliberate decision to divide work and home.

He chooses to not have a laptop, so that he doesn’t have the option to bring work home.

In France, work-life balance has become to be seen as a right, not as a privilege. Before the 1970s, the French actually used to work more hours than US citizens:

“As unemployment rose in France in the 1970s, French unions responded to the economic trouble in a way that was very different from the response to slowing growth in the U.S.: they advocated a policy of work sharing, in which individual workers’ hours would be reduced in response to the increasing number of people without jobs. Using catchphrases like “work less, work all,” they argued that society would benefit if the same amount of work could be done by a greater number of workers, with each working less.”
- Kerry Close, TIME.com

Being balanced is not being lazy.

Your top productivity will land within a reasonable workweek, and the incremental hours you work will only lead to smaller progress. Here’s a handy chart made in Microsoft Paint (you’re reading a post made by an analyst, not an art director):

Working harder doesn’t always mean you’re working that much better.

But we, at least in the US, are in love with the concept of Hard Work.

CREDIT: screenshot from Twitter

Usain Bolt also stays with the pack before running ahead in his qualifying rounds, working smarter not harder, leaving the show to the finals. He also plays video games daily and gets at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

You might retort with, “Yeah, but Kobe only sleeps 4 hours a night” — yes, but he is on a polyphasic sleep schedule; so, he sleeps more frequently throughout the day.

These athletes are at the top of their game because they do. work. smarter.

So, next time you’re considering eating at your desk or prioritizing working late over a drink with friends…ask yourself if you are doing this because you work in the US and live in a culture that glorifies being a Hard-Working American, or if you are truly getting more important work done, and done well.

Ponder that. In a French way.


June 2–21

Baguette* Count: 8
Crêpe Count: 7

*Strictly only counting traditional baguettes here. The actual amount of bread consumed is much, much higher.