“Thank god it’s monday” talk at converge SE 2013. photo by alison harshbarger.

Like your work. Love your life.

I run a company. It’s not a big company, but it’s big enough. Big enough to keep me up at night. Big enough to cause me to work nights and weekends. Big enough to always know that 15-20 simultaneous clients, and the stakeholders that come with them, have put their faith in us to do good work. And certainly big enough to remind me that I’m ultimately responsible for the well being of 28 people and their families. I’ve been known to pop a Tums or two.

When we hire people, we look for people who have a strong work ethic. People who aren’t afraid of putting in a late night here and there, or weekend sprint to get a job done. Interestingly enough, rather than fade, I notice the level of engagement and commitment of these go-getters grow, and even at times, becomes all-consuming. They’ll obsess about staying on top of email. They’ll come in early to get a head start and stay late to have the last word. They’ll find themselves belt-deep in meetings. They’ll spar with colleagues about process, protocol, or the number of hours budgeted to do this or that. It’s like watching a hurricane form and meander about before spinning itself out.

I’m describing me as much as anyone I work with.

But then I have those moments when I realize the last time I hung out with my sister was a year ago, and she lives only four hours away. Or when my dad was fine one day, only to enter the hospital for the next 40 days and to succumb to acute leukemia. Or when I drive by my old elementary school, and recall my biggest concern was grabbing the best swing at recess. Or I’ll get home from work, look at my kid, and realize he’s grown three inches and isn’t interested in hugging me very much anymore.

Work is like a mattress  you spend enough time with both that they should be decent. But the next time you find yourself stressing over something that happened while you were earning a paycheck, remember the stuff that could have happened when you weren’t.

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