Symbolic work/life boundaries are almost impossible to maintain. If you're an entrepreneur, you are your business. Your business is your life, just like your life is your business -- which is also true for family, friends, and interests -- so there is no separation because all the things make you who you are.
There is no work/life balance -- there's just life.
That's my take, but one guy takes the premise a lot farther. "Switching off your obsessions doesn't make sense," says Grant Cardone, author of Be Obsessed or Be Average. "The only way anyone will know who you are and to make a difference is to embrace obsession and embrace the maniac you are.
"Those are the people who make it. Take Steve Jobs. People said he was obsessed, a control freak, a micro-manager, was difficult to work with... but those are the people that make it."
Grant is right: incredibly successful people don't seek a perfect balance. (Of course it does depend on how you define success; everyone should define success differently.) Instead they out-work, out-hustle, out-think... they basically out-everything the people around them.
Why? They're obsessed -- but in a good way. If you're the kind of person who tends to sit and wait and think and plan... but never actually get started on doing the things you want to do, Grant's book is for you. If after reading it you aren't motivated to get going RFN (Right [use your imagination] Now), then you probably never will.
More from my conversation with Grant about Be Obsessed or Be Average:
1. Obsession can be harnessed.
"Being obsessed doesn't mean you're crazy," Grant says. "Being obsessed means something preoccupies you and fills your mind. When you love what you do, you don't think about food and sleep and recreation.
"Obsession doesn't have to turn out badly. It can be your genius if you use your obsession constructively."
2. When you deny your dreams, all that untapped energy can turn against you.
"Between the ages of 16 and 25," Grant says, "I used drugs every day. But the problem wasn't the drugs. The problem was I denied that I wanted to be rich, famous, in control... if you deny that much energy, if you deny your dreams, if you start pushing them down and trying to squelch them... your dreams won't go away.
"All that energy will show up somewhere. Why not let it show up where you most want it to?"
3. Do the thing you hate to do.
"I took all that energy and threw it into a job I hated," Grant says. "Thirty days later I loved that job because I got great at it.
"'Do what you like,' 'Do what you love,' all that stuff is overplayed. Do the one thing you hate and you're guaranteed to become great at the things you're meant to do."
4. You can have many obsessions.
"None of us are here to do just one thing," Grant says. "I can be obsessed with doing many things. I'm obsessed with being a great husband. I'm obsessed with being a great father. I'm obsessed with being known in my space.
"Obsession doesn't mean being single-minded. You can be great at many things."
5. You will be ridiculed for voicing your obsessions... but who cares?
"I've always wanted to be rich," Grant says. "I've always wanted to be famous, at least in my space.
"You will get ridiculed for voicing things like that -- but if you don't want it and can't talk bout it, how can you grow it?
"When the obsessed show they're obsessed, they draw out the haters. People will say you're greedy, you want to get rich, you're showing off...the haters are a problem, but the naysayers are even more dangerous. They say they love you just the way you are, they say you're doing fine...and because they're close to you they're able to influence you.
"Don't listen. If you're not happy with where you are, say so. And then embrace what you plan to do to get to where you want to go."
6. If you quit on your dreams... how will you not quit on everything else?
"When I was eight I can remember wanting to be rich and in control of my life," Grant says. "If I abandon my dream, the dream that was with me from the beginning... if you give up those dreams and are willing to abandon the things that are most innate,how will you not abandon everything else that comes after that?
"You've already made peace with being average regarding the things closest to you: your dreams. If you don't chase the things that mean the most to you, you won't chase anything."
7. "Balance" is only achieved when you're living your life.
"I'm not interested in balance," Grant says. "I don't know one person that has ever achieved balance. I don't know anybody that has what I want that has achieved balance.
"Today, by me going in as many directions as possible, I feel better about my life than I ever have, because I'm living my life the way I want. That's balance.
"I want to live an exceptional life. I'm not seeking balance."
8. Surround yourself with people who are obsessed.
"We're willing to fire people that don't fit in," Grant says. "Our culture is obsessed, and the people that don't fit tend to go away because they don't want to be here.
"I'm the quarterback. I'm trying to make a difference for the better. I need people who support the playbook I'm running and are obsessed with it.
"You do't lose money because you hired someone and lost them. People don't cost money. An inability to grow the company is what costs money."
9. When you get criticized... that means you're doing something right.
"ROI calculations are people trying to make sense of where they are, not looking to where they want to go," Grant says. "Take Elon Musk. What is the return on investment of trying to colonize Mars?
"Those are the people I study. Those are the crazy people... until years later when people realize they were geniuses.
"Pick five people, dead or alive, who accomplished amazing things. Somewhere along the line they were called control freaks, obsessive, selfish, arrogant... but now we realize they were actually doing something great.
"Don't be afraid to be obsessed with following your dreams. That's the only way you'll ever accomplish big things."