Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Admit it, self-control is not your finest quality.
You charge hard because that’s what modern businesspeople are supposed to do. If you’re not visibly charging, you can hardly be respected. Or, at least, that’s how it feels.
The problem with charging is that you never know when you need recharging. Your business becomes you. Until your behavior doesn’t.
Here, then, are some warning signs. If you feel any of these happening, please stop, walk into your garden and place your nose close to a rose. If you don’t have a garden, just go to a flower store and start sniffing.
They might think you’re peculiar after awhile, but you’ll have to explain that it’s on the advice of your shrink.
1. You’re Even Getting Angry At Your Shrink.
There’s something about losing your temper that suggests you’re losing yourself. Sometimes you realize you’ve done it and apologize. However, if you’re working too hard, you start losing your temper at your suddenly laggard Starbucks barista, your long-suffering lover (who’s thinking of leaving you, by the way) and even your trusted bartender. If you find your road rage has turned into life rage, you might want to step back and ask yourself whether your priorities have come undone. Constant outbursts of anger say that something’s unbalanced inside you. I refuse to make a Donald Trump joke here.
2. You’ve Gone All Hardcore On Everyone At Work.
I know that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer loves the concept of hardcore. But now he owns the Los Angeles Clippers, so he’ll finally understand the concept’s limitations. (Disclosure: Golden State Warriors fan.) It’s all very well running everyone ragged. At what point, though, will you realize that the ragged one is you? You can drive everyone as hard as you like, but know that they’ll be looking at you and wondering whether you’ve completely lost it. (Disclosure: You have.)
3. You’re In Love-Hate With Your Phone.
This might seem like the natural, modern state of affairs. Your phone incites extreme extremes of emotions in you. However, you surely know when you’ve gone too far. In meetings, you clutch it under the table. At restaurants, you curse yourself for not buying an Apple Watch, so that the notifications could arrive discreetly (not) on your wrist. You curse your phone as much as you need your phone. In fact, you need your phone to deliver you from the curse of working too hard. If only your phone could deliver good news on that one sale, that one deal, that one hire. If only you could chill out a little. Switch the phone off. It’s good for the battery life.
4. You Think The Whole World Is Conspiring Against You.
A classic, this. You tell yourself that the harder you work, the more things seem to go awry. It never strikes you, though, that they’re going awry because you’re working so much that you can’t see the lawn for the grass. It’s possible that the whole world does have it in for you. It’s also possible that your lottery numbers will come up the very same day that you get married and are appointed head coach of the Dallas Mavericks.
5. You Just Don’t Have Time To Think.
As any hard-thinking teen will tell you: “Duh.” You’re spending so much of your time submerged in what you call working that the actually productive things you could be doing — taking the business forward — are cast aside. You just don’t have time to think because you’re the dog that keeps running after the dirty tennis ball his owner keeps tossing from that Jai alai banana-bat thing. Let the ball fly wherever it will and see what happens next.
6. Your Employees Have Started To Be As (Quietly) Angry As You.
There comes a point where your constant pissiness might infect those around you. In a way, this might be a good thing. It might just force you to wonder why it is that these formerly nice people have turned into someone who works at the DMV. There again, you don’t have time to think, so it’s probably never crossed your mind because the world is constantly conspiring against you and, wait, you just have to take this call.
7. You’re Never Satisfied (In That Ugly Way).
It isn’t just that you’re generally angrier than an Internet troll. It’s that nothing you ever look at, eat, drink, smell or even sleep in is good enough. You find fault where there is none. You find blemishes in a Salvador Dali painting (there are supposed to be blemishes, silly. Dali’s like, you know, weird). Your constant striving might indeed show limitless ambition. It might also show that you need two weeks in Havana, with no phone, no Internet and not even a whisper that capitalism is a good thing.
8. When You’re Alone, You Keep Thinking About The Past.
You’re on a plane. You’ve stared at your laptop for the fifteenth time in the last fourteen minutes. Suddenly, you look out of the window and have a fleeting memory of what it was like when you smoked pot with your two closest friends and then decided to hitchhike to the beach in order to do nothing at all but stare at the sky. These things might still be available to you if only you would let them be. You’re thinking of a time other than now, because now has driven you demented. There’s no shame in admitting that. There’s even no shame in doing something about it.
9. You Just Can’t Switch Off.
Take all the hours in your day. Now separate out the hours in which you don’t think about work on the left, and put the hours you think about work on the right. There’s nothing on the left, is there? If there’s nothing on the left, there’s very little left of your productiveness. Clearing your mind is one of the finest ways of being productive. It’s also one of the finest ways of staying sane. Here’s one piece of advice that has kept me sane (alright, that’s debatable, but I will defend my sanity if pressed): never, ever, ever work on a plane. I refuse to work on planes. I snort at those who do. I won’t do it. I won’t even take out my laptop. I read a book. A book created not from Amazon’s software, but from the Amazon’s finest forests. Alright, call me insane. I won’t get mad at you. I’ll spend some time thinking about why you called me insane. And I’ll decide that your attitude is a little too hardcore for me.