Apple is recognized as the most valuable company in the world, but its title has come with a price: Over the years, the technology juggernaut has developed a reputation of workaholism. Ex-employees detail stories of a 24/7 work culture in which fear and intimidation are common, and managers send out emails at 1 a.m., expecting a prompt reply.

But Apple seems to have topped itself with a recent ad for its new show, Planet of the Apps, which has been billed as a Shark Tank for tech entrepreneurs.

As shared recently by my fellow Inc. columnist Jason Fried:


Apple seems to have pulled down the ad after some external pressure, but it originally ran with the tag line:

"For the ultimate reward, he'll put everything on the line."

Sadly, many entrepreneurs believe this is the only way. The first few replies to Jason's tweet included statements like, "Being an entrepreneur does require making sacrifices somewhere in your life," and "If you've ever ran a business by yourself you know 8 hours isn't enough."

But what's much worse is the fact that a company like Apple, which is so greatly respected in the entrepreneurial world, would so blatantly promote a lifestyle in which building a new app is more important than, you know, helping to raise the little humans you helped bring into the world.

Reflecting on this fact reminded me of my own experience (which I wrote a column about a few years ago).

I've experienced the pain of starting my own business. I know how tough it can be, especially in the beginning. Your company can feel like your child. Pregnancy pangs and labor pains emerge in the form of hundreds of cold calls and late payment from clients. I've sat up late at night nursing complicated tax forms.

But as I continued "raising" my company, things changed. I cared for it. Nurtured it. Watched it grow. It taught me lessons that I never would have learned otherwise, and became a rewarding and enriching experience.

And that's when things got dangerous.

Because eventually, I loved work so much it was all I ever wanted to do. If I was away from work for more than a couple of hours, I felt uncomfortable. As soon as I got an opportunity, I was back in front of the computer.

This addiction--and believe me, it's a real addiction--threatened to crowd out everything else.

But the thing was, I already had children--real children. And a wonderful, caring wife. And other things in life that I cared about more than my business.

Fortunately, I came to a major realization before it was too late:

This was not who I wanted to become.

So, I forced myself to rethink my priorities. I stopped believing the lie that to build a successful business, you have to eat, sleep, and breathe work. I surrounded myself with others who wanted to achieve true balance in life.

Most of all, I decided to set limits on my workday. Nowadays, I eat at least one meal with my wife and children every day (sometimes two). I stick to my quitting time, realizing that responding to that urgent email tomorrow isn't going to make a lick of difference in the big picture. And I take Friday afternoons off to spend with my family.

And you know what? I've never been happier.

Jason Fried, who I quoted at the beginning of the article, is another believer in this philosophy. Eighteen years ago, he started what was soon a successful business, and it continues to thrive. It's been profitable every year since the beginning, on eight hours a day from Jason--or less.

"I'd say eight is enough," says Jason. "Six could be just fine too. Or five. But 10 isn't. Eight represents a limit for me, not the ideal."

Don't get me wrong: Running a business is very hard work, and can be very rewarding.

But it's time to fight the myth that doing great work requires giving up your family.

Or your health.

Or other things that are much more important in the long run.

Because happiness is about more than doing work that you love; it's figuring out what to love even more than work ...

And investing time and effort in those things, too.