Sunday, April 01, 2007


Work to enrich your life (not define it)

There's a great scene (among many) in the latest version of The Italian Job, in which a retiring thief played by Donald Sutherland is giving advice to his protege, played by Mark Wahlberg.

After a particularly successful heist, the master tells the apprentice:

"There are two kinds of thieves in the world - those who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives. Don't be the latter."

Many of us put our heart and soul into our work. We do this because it's how we were raised by our parents, or because we love what we do, or because we're driven by various financial or career goals, or all of the above.

But work as the means and the ends is largely hallow. Although I love what I do, and truly enjoy the work I'm privileged to do each business day, it is a means to an end for me.

I've worked with many people who use work to define their lives, and too often these people end up lonely and unhappy. They get incredible satisfaction out of the success they achieve in the office, sure, but it's at the expense of the joy and fulfillment they aren't able to achieve outside of the workplace.

It's far easier to both write and practice this on a Sunday afternoon, rather than a busy Wednesday afternoon. But time and experience has already taught me that, although work can be incredibly fulfilling, it's a means of enriching the purposeful life I choose to live outside of work.

The right balance between personal and professional time is a personal decision, but few of us at the end of the day want our time in the office to truly define who we are.

As you start another work week, and a new quarter of the year, it's a great time to set aggressive goals for yourself at the office. Push yourself to be better, to work smarter. But also challenge yourself to define how you want to live your life - this week, this quarter and beyond.

There's no reason you can't continue to be a superstar at the office, but use that success to enrich the life you really want to lead.


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