Last week I wrote an article for American Express about marrying your work. Unlike the “ball and chain” picture that tends to pop into our heads, I espoused the merits of loving your job, just like you would marry a spouse you love. Be sure to read that article before reading on. I’ll wait.
OK, now that you read the first part, here is, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story…
I’m on vacation this week in Mexico and I just had an epiphany.
Tonight while cooking up some steaks on the barbeque, I looked through the window and saw everyone else on their computers working. In fact, all day long while I relaxed in the pool with my Kindle, everyone else was busy working away.
Admitted, I work a lot, but I love what I do. I truly do. Regardless, I have not taken a “real” vacation in 2.5 years and I work 80+ hours a week. I use this “dedication” as a badge of honor.
But tonight, while watching everyone work while vacationing in paradise, I realized something important.
You can be married to someone, yet not spend 24 hours a day with them. The best relationships are often those where each individual has their own life in addition to their marriage.
Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” is one of my favorite books. In his poem “On Marriage,” he so beautifully says:
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”
For me, this always described the ideal relationship. A deep closeness that is not TOO close. There is space.
Last night I reread the poem through the lens of “marrying your work,” and it took on a whole new meaning.
You can love your work. In fact, you can be married to your work. This is a good thing.
But just as you do not need to be with your spouse 24 hours a day, you don’t need to be with your work around the clock.
Okay, now I need to get back to my vacation…
Stephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.