Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Workaholic's Choice

Jory offers some insight and great questions about ambition in The Workaholic's Choice, a post about a workaholic consultant profiled in Fast Company:
"I wasn’t sure what to make of this article; was FC trying to lionize this man for his self-sacrificing attitude towards work? A father of six children, four of them special-needs kids adopted from three different countries, you have to wonder why he bothered creating such a complex life outside of his work, as he had no time for it.

Perhaps it’s the context du jour of work-life balance —- or, more accurately, work-life meaning —- that colors my bias. I fully believe that Stalk is smart, brilliant even, but is he wise? And, in the end, does the smartest man meet his maker with any more fanfare than the rest of us?"
It's true that we tend to respect people (on some level, anyway) for pursuing something with passion. Even when it's not something we would be interested in pouring ourselves into, there's something compelling about seeing someone else take it all the way. But what if that person is sacrificing the rest of their life for that passion, even though they might say that their marriage and kids and friendships are as important to them? Maybe that's what the Tragically Hip were singing about in Vapour Trails: "But there's nothing uglier than a man hitting his stride".


Jory Des Jardins said...

Jeremy--I just read this poem. That's got to be the best line I've heard all day! I would also point to Tori Amos who admonishes her man in "Cornflake Girl": Every man with a golden gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows SO much

In the end, what's the point of having so many marbles?

Jeremy said...

Jory, I love Cornflake Girl -- what a great song. Both of those CDs will have to dusted off tonight...I never listen to the Tragically Hip anymore.

What's the point of having all those marbles? The pursuit, for many of us, I suppose. We think we're chasing the destination, but there must be something about the journey that we can't give up.

Phil from the UK said...


This article about Stalk is a very interesting posting and I really hope it generates comment.

What an odious outlook on work and life this person has. Stalk is clearly driven - to the point of madness. His singleminded pursuit of profit - of money - is offensive in the extreme to me personally.

Stalk's outlook and general life position seem to me to be completely devoid of any natural human feeling whatsoever. I just couldn't see any warmth at all? Could anyone?

Stalk's commentry is littered with militaristic jargon . He went to Harvard because he thought it was a boot camp - and I thought you went to University to learn??

I found the whole thing full of bluster and arrogant in the extreme.

Stalk's children and marriage must have suffered. His itinerary says it all.

My main point however is that in some organisations, this sort of behaviour is considered the norm and sets the datum, the benchmark if you like, regarding what is and is not a reasonable level of work.

Stalk's modus operandi is totally lacking in, finesse, style and lightness of touch. He seems to bludgeon his way through his life.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that he moved 27 times as a child and apparently spent most of his formative years watching nuclear explosions with his Mom!!

I am saddened that this sort of approach is lionised. I didn't see an ounce of humanity or humility in the man or in his outlook and approach.

Stalk's methodology is simple - "Hardball players do what it takes to win" Are organisations really wasting shareholders money in consultancy fees for this pathetic message?????

I do not see how this approach can be taken seriously. It leaves itself wide open for lampooning - and deservedly so.

Phil From The UK

Jeremy said...

Hey Phil, I think we're on the same page with this stuff, and I thought Jory's thoughts were spot-on too.

I saw that you've got your blog page set up -- time to get some posts in there! Looking forward to it...

Garth said...

I work at an academic institution that has fallen prey to a worth ethic that at times is obscene. My workplace happens to be a Christian college and in some ways religious or ministry-oriented places of employment somehow justify overworking because of the greater cause of reaching out to others. Do as much as possible no matter what the cost to your family or life does not seem to be a cause worth representing ultimately.

...I took the liberty of forwarding the article to my fellow faculty and got some good responses.


Great article Jer!

Jeremy said...

Hi Garth. My dad worked for his church as an administrator for a few years, and the workaholism was a serious problem for him and his co-workers. There's this sense of duty when your faith and work are tied together, but the results are not pretty.