Bobs, Balance & Burnout
“Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.”
- Joan Wallach Scott
Originally a box office flop, the movie “Office Space” has since achieved cult movie status as a parody of modern work life. Peter Gibbons is burned out, unmotivated, and frustrated with his job as a computer programmer. In the scene referenced above he meets with Bob Slydell and Bob Porter (the Bobs), two business consultants brought in to help the company downsize their workforce. In a shocking turn of events that can only happen in a comedy, the Bobs appreciate Peter’s honesty and recommend that he be promoted.
Peter’s perspective on work and the meaning of “success” is probably different from most of ours, but the fact that over 4 million people resigned from their jobs in August, 2021 tells us that he is not alone. And that got me thinking...is there really such a thing as “work/life balance”? I’ve always argued that our “work life” and our “life” are so interconnected that it becomes impossible to untangle them.
I recently saw a Ted Talk by Dan Thurmon, who proposed the idea of “off balance, on purpose”, and he was able to articulate my feelings in a way I never could. According to Thurmon, true success, and true happiness comes from understanding and embracing the interconnectedness of all the parts of your life: work, relationships, health, spiritual, and personal interests. One might argue that Peter’s transformation moved the pendulum too far in one direction, but it did allow him to allocate time and focus to things in his life that had suffered under the weight of his work. Compartmentalizing and trying to balance these different parts of your life, each in its own silo, can lead to stagnation and burnout.
I invite you to listen to Episode 9 of Consultant Conversations, where Jason Boaz, Keith Soriano, Todd Smith, and I discuss what it means to be truly successful at managing all the different facets of your life, recognizing the onset of burnout, and why embracing those things beyond your career can make your career more satisfying.
I also hope that these podcasts are valuable for you in your personal and professional lives. With that in mind, I am including a list of “Questions to Consider” below. I hope you encourage others in your organization to listen to this episode and use the questions as a starting point for important conversations about the topic.
How you allocate your time, talent, and treasure is a good measure of what’s most important to you. If you look at what gets your attention, does that align with your values?
What do you say you enjoy doing, but don’t really allocate time to?
As a leader, what are the human and financial costs of burnout on your team?
When you try to keep the different parts of your life separate, what’s the end result?
If you focus all your energy on your work, what’s left for the people around you?
You can find this episode, and all previous episodes on your favorite podcast platforms:
We'd also welcome the opportunity to have you submit topics for the four of us to bounce around over a good cup of coffee. I can't wait to hear what you have in mind.
Comfortably off balance,
Michael Mueller, PGA
PGA Career Consultant
Proudly Serving the Carolinas Section