I LIVE TO WORK OR I WORK TO LIVE

The great thing about being a Manager is that you only have one primary objective.
All you have to do is to create an environment where people can be unbelievably successful.
I understand that this is easier to say than to do, but it’s not a bad starting point.

To me one of the critical measurements of this has always been whether your people will get up on a freezing cold, wet Monday morning and say “Thank God the weekend is over, I can now spend another 5 days at work”.

I am not talking about work/life balance here…. I am talking about work being an integral part of life.

I have always been staggered by how many people fail to make this association. I find it hard to understand how many people have the attitude that they have to “work” 5 days per week so that they can “live” the other 2 days per week. This means that many people spend about 70% of their life doing something that they basically dislike so that they can then spend 30% of their life doing “fun” things … like watching TV ?

I will quite often ask people to list the 10 things that they love doing most in life, based on the premise that if they could spend the major part of their life doing these 10 things that this would make their life more enjoyable, more interesting and more fulfilling. It is very rare that people put “watching Television” down as one of their Top 10, and yet it is amazing how much time people actually spend in front of the Box. The trouble is that it is just too easy to drop down on a sofa in front of the TV after a “hard day’s work”, even if there is nothing worth watching, and anyway, it is critically important that we are up-to- date with the News …. much more acceptable an excuse than watching the 56th rerun of “Friends”, which will be on next anyway.

In most cases the Top 10 things that we actually love to do tend to take some time, effort and planning… it’s a lot easier to just plonk ourselves down on the sofa. There has to be something worthwhile due to come on at some time on at least one of the 500 channels that are available.

WRONG !!!

I have numerous Anglophone friends in France that have both French and English satellite TV, which theoretically should give them about 1000 channels to choose from, but in reality they actually have access to about 20 channels repeated 50 times, just in different languages.

Now that I live in France, I am fascinated by the National obsession with retirement. Even 25 year olds freshly out of university, and starting their first job seem to already have their eye on when they can retire.
So can one assume that retirement in France means that a whole new world will open up when this Valhalla-like point arrives. That it will herald a whole new period of creativity and learning , and catching up with all those things that full-time work kept one away from.

It appears not to be the case. Most retirees seem to spend their time in front of their TV or sitting outside their cottage watching the traffic go by. I once got into trouble by suggesting at a conference that France could solve all its Energy needs by hooking up the chins of retirees to the National Grid. That way we could at least get some benefit out of all those heads swiveling round as another Peugeot or Citroen went through the village at warp speed.

I understand that there are many people who have had little choice in what they have had to do in life, and I deeply sympathise with them. However I don’t sympathise with those people I come across more often that are well educated and intelligent enough to make choices in their lives, and do little but complain about their lot.
In these cases, my advice is that if you won’t change your job, at least change your attitude. This is, after all, something that you can control 100%.

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17 Responses to I LIVE TO WORK OR I WORK TO LIVE

  1. Trevor Jarrett says:

    I agree Les, when I was running Bloomberg my ambition was always to make Sunday nights the best night of the week for my staff …. as Monday was work.

    Mike use to say “you spend a third of your life married, a third asleep and one third at work… so my advice to you to find a good mattress “

  2. Frank Liebeskind says:

    Even as an ex-triathlete, I still training 6 days a week, and have so for 30 years, why because I enjoy it, AND, I can eat & drink as much as I want (well almost). This analogy applies to work (as a manager,advisor, mentor); I enjoy working, I enjoy developing people and teams, I enjoy coaching people based on my experience, I enjoy seeing them develop and succeed and most say thanks. This is reward enough, but the financial benefits of work is being able to enjoy leisure (and semi retirement); going to the beach; eating a nice meal, travelling and buying my beloved art works. Live life correctly and you can achieve win/wins: win at work; win at play. Train & stay fit is a win and it allowing you to eat & drink good food and wine is another WIN. Retirement is a state of mind, always stay active.

    • leshayman says:

      Frank you hit the nail.
      I have friends in their 70s and 80s that have more joie de vivre, energy and the right touches of eccentricity to make them more interesting and vibrant than most people half their age. It’s less about money and more about an attitude that creates an endless number of reasons to want to get out of bed in the morning, beyond just the need to get to the bathroom.
      Les

  3. scott hamilton says:

    Never has a phrase been so accurately coined as the “idiot box”. I made a concious choice over 20 years ago to not have tv connected to our house. The amount of people who are gobsmacked when i tell them this is quite surprising,to me the fact they can’t live without this form of entertainment is what is surprising. Ironically i quite enjoy woking on our property in my spare time.
    Scott

  4. Oli says:

    Hi Les,
    I enjoyed reading this blog, because it also makes me think. Sometimes you go home meet your friends on weekend and if you are being asked than you moan about stress and too much work. But when you really think of it than you can’t life without it because you want and need the success which is like eating 2 chocolate bars (Swiss one not the Cadbury stuff). I think sometimes the society expects from you that you are moaning. A lot of people would ask what you have drunk when you say “I work a lot and I like my work”. Now I have to go to my sofa. Semi final football (ES- DE) is starting :-).
    Oli

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Oli,
      I have to admit that I too watched ES-DE play tonight.
      You may have felt better if you had stayed at work …. 🙂
      Les

      • Oli says:

        You are again so right, Les. At least somebody in our house was delighted (my wife is spanish)

  5. Trevor Jarrett says:

    wow Spain won … I never know as its so hot here and only a odd cable company only available in pubs has the soccer ! go Spain

    ( my sis lives in Madrid )

  6. Maureen O'Shea says:

    I also cannot bear the inanities of TV. There is always something better to do (unless there is some compelling sport or documentary on TV.) Learn a language, read a good book, surf the net, listen to music, go to the beach, etc . I expect to go to my grave as an unfinished masterpiece, learning something new and growing in knowledge and experience everyday.

    I also don’t understand the retirement mentality. I have friends younger than me who are desperate to retire. I intend to contribute to society well into my older years. Like Monty Roberts I expect to contribute more in the next 20 – 30 years than I have in the last 55 (56 next week! 🙂 ).

    Like Frank I continue to “train”, mainly on my bike which I love riding. Next semester I am going to learn salsa!

    As an aside, I remember falling asleep in Frank’s office during a Monday morning sales meeting, when Albert Cuschieri got into a discussion with Frank about DIY laying of bathroom tiles!

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Maureen,

      I love Salsa ! I recently did a rack of lamb with a tomato and mint salsa, and potatoes en papillote. :-).

      Last April I did a cooking course at Pru Leith in London (Xmas present from Victoria), and it gave me the confidence to try more than the handful of recipes that have sustained me till now. The most satisfying is manually making bread.

      As for dancing salsa, many years agoI joined the US boycott on anything Cuban, including anything Afro-Cuban, so I now only dance when the feet need to move more than the hips.

      Les

  7. Frank Liebeskind says:

    Hello Maureen, blast from the past, you must have been a baby back then, I was still a pup. 🙂
    I still use Albert as an example of the best solutions salesperson, one that won my total trust.
    Using “semester” I guess you don’t live in Aussie? but if you did, and you like cycling, think about hooking up with my friend Pino, he takes a group to Italy each year on a (serious) cycle tour, Italia Spring tour ( pino@italiaspringtour.com ), its gr8, I also cycled Portugal with many of the same people & my old cycle coach Frank Conceicao.
    Enjoy salsa, I tried it when I went to Carnival in Rio a couple of years ago, fantastic to watch.
    rgds, Frank (still can’t tile).

    • leshayman says:

      Talking about “blasts from the past”, I got some of the shots for my latest post “Son inTypewriters” from Max Burnet, who hired me into DEC in 1977.
      He was then (and still is now) a true old world-gentleman.
      I had been a CIO until then (although less fancy titles), and he took me on as a salesman for the South Island of NZ. Moving from a Techie to a sales stream changed my life, and I owe him a lot for believing that I could make the switch.
      I am sure that there are many others who would owe him a similar debt of gratitude … he definitely had a very positive influence on many people.
      Les

      • Frank Liebeskind says:

        Les, I still see Max at least every year, he has his “old timers lunch” each November, next one is Friday Nov 5 at the Little Snail in Darling Harbour. Whyle I’m the baby of the group and between 60 and 80 go along, including Len Rust, Colin Hoschke, quite a few ex Didits you would know. There is a guest speaker and honouring one of the legends of the industry. So if you’re is Sydney come along. Max is gr8, he’s slowed down and not too well, but such a delight and “giver”. rgds, Frank

  8. Luke Marson says:

    A fantastic blog. I don’t have a TV and enjoy every minute of spending my time with my girlfriend or planning a trip. Sometimes I have to work or do the choirs – but I prefer getting something done than watching TV.

  9. Adriana says:

    Although I believe you intended your blog to be fun, I didn’t expect to have so many good loughs after reading only about 15 posts… for tonight I won’t read another post as I’m afraid I won’t laugh as much! You are far better than “Friends”!

    And to get to the “serious” staff, I’ve always felt that there is something artificial in the expression “we offer good work/life balance”, never understanding exactly what would be the part o the employer offered to the employee inside this “balance”. Going even further with the joke I always smile when I see that expression, thinking “What would they do to me at ‘work’ that I would need to compensate in ‘life’?”

    I’ll finish with a famous Confucius quote that I love:
    “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life!”

    Thank you for being such a good writer!
    Adriana

    • leshayman says:

      Adriana, you are very kind and you are right that while I write about serious topics, I do believe that we should always look at the funny/silly/quirky/lighter side of life, work and people … after all there is so much to laugh at, and if god had meant for life to be serious he wouldn’t have made us all so unusual. Les

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