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I Wish I Did Not Work That Hard

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A few years ago, I had the chance to visit the cradle of Western Civilization – Athens, Greece. Our group gathered in The Plaka at the footsteps of the Acropolis planning the best route to climb up the hill to The Parthenon. We were all eager to visit the temple of Athena and relive the Greek mythology.

Excited to begin our climb when I overheard an older man – probably in his sixties – telling his wife “I wish we could do that but let us just wait here in the shade!” They were simply too weak and too old to do what they had always wanted to do for years. It was just too late for them to enjoy the pleasure of travel.

Today as I coach, I see managers and leaders fiercely competing to succeed at the expense of the quality of their lives. This makes me wonder if running on the treadmill of the corporate world is simply worth it. These leaders are amongst the brightest brains in their fields, so they must have noticed that the wheel only stops when the hamster dies. I continue to coach aspiring leaders in their everlasting chase of “the more & the higher” and I wonder if this serves the quality of life they live.

Remembering the incident in Athens, I wonder if we really have a one-time retirement or can we enjoy multiple pit-stops to reflect, rejuvenate and renew. Should our career be a marathon of resilience through the obstacles of progression, or perhaps it may be bursts of short sprints of excellence interrupted by multiple pauses to embrace life?

When I catch myself running on the hamster-wheel, I remember what a mentor once told me: “Son, of the many regrets that I have in life, working too hard is my biggest. I wish I did not work that hard!”

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