Here's a true fact of running a business: Some people on your team are keeping something from you. It's not that they aren't who they say they are, or that they're not doing their jobs. The secret is that many of them would simply rather be doing something else, somewhere else.
Maybe your accountant has a passion for fashion and always dreamed of being a designer. Your marketing writer spends his free time not writing about your industry, but writing about music.
Corporate America is staffed with people who are in their current jobs because they believe they have to be, according to a preconceived notion that their dream will be waiting for them someday if they just grin and bear it through whatever the job boards say is in demand, all for the sake of a never-to-come windfall.
You can't fake passion
I believe this is at the center of the "work-life balance" argument--a term I truly dislike. After all, for most people, it means the balance between the things we have to do and the things we want to do.
Some of your peers likely bargained with themselves 10 years ago that in 10 years they'd pursue their passions -- and yet, here they are. This is the primary differentiator between a job to earn a wage and a passion--something you'd do even if there was no pay.
I'll never forget what one of my executives said to me (shortly before things started to go sideways): "Not everyone loves being in business--some of us don't want to do this forever." It put me back on my heels. I wanted to stand up and shake them.
I understand that a large segment of people wake up in the morning, eyes red with weariness, and lumber into a job they hate to make ends meet. That's not the profile of our employees.
These are people who for the most part can do what they choose, and they should. If you're white-knuckling desire, the startup world is not for you. This is where people go to get away from the job they hate.
Six months later, the above mentioned employee was gone.
Time spent on one thing takes away time from everything else
I'm not saying that everyone resents his or her job. What I am saying is that no one wants to grind it out for 40 years. I believe a big component of work dissatisfaction is clutter. People feel overwhelmed because they haven't learned to prioritize in a sea of meaningless outputs.
Most leaders want to give employees roles that fulfill them, but inevitably other issues arise. It comes back to creating a culture of intentionality, in which every individual is empowered to dictate his or her own days as much as possible.
Intentionality is especially relevant for anyone with a family. My son is just about to turn 1, and I can say honestly that having that responsibility reframed how I approach my work.
Every minute has to have purpose, otherwise I'm wasting time--time that can be spent with him.
Don't make wealth a false barrier to happiness
If you look at how wealth is created, it often results from the sale of assets and has less to do with salary. Yet many people daydream about building a large enough cushion to finally tell the boss off and pursue their passions.
Life is rarely that black and white. Those who lament about work-life balance often don't give themselves the space they need to start truly living. I'm talking about bringing your passions into your day, today.
I urge employees struggling with balance to evaluate their outside interests. Once you've identified your passions, you can intentionally find ways to inspire your day job with these pursuits.
If not, then you're definitely in the wrong line of work!
Make positive changes, for your well-being and theirs
I know I've stumbled on the steps to reaching work nirvana, but there was a time not long ago where I hit a lull with my company and questioned what the next step was.
I wrestled with whether we should hire another body so we could take on more clients or if we should pursue a completely different direction. All I knew for sure was that I was in a rut and had started to spiral down the same path I warn others about.
I finally revisited what my real passion (and approach) for growing businesses is: applying radically different perspectives. And in this case, I needed to hire someone with one.
The result? I brought on board a key executive to completely shake up the business. Sometimes a new perspective is exactly what's needed to help you understand that the work isn't what needs to change; your attitude toward it is.
If your company culture celebrates 5 o'clock on Friday because the week is mercifully over, something needs to change in short order. Fight the burnout by knowing what make you and your people most passionate in life and then give them opportunities to put those things on display.
Remember: There's no glory in the grind. It only ever leaves us all regretfully, irreparably worn down.