As I've been out on the road talking about Thrive, one question has been coming up again and again, which is some variation of, "hey, it's OK for you to say 'you don't need to burnout' now that you're already successful, but what about those of us just starting out who want to succeed?" It's a good question -- and it seems like a logical one. But its premise is actually flawed in a number of ways. It is based on the dangerous assumption that overwork and burnout are the only path to professional success. A growing number of scientific studies confirm the profound negative effects of burnout and sleep deprivation on every aspect of our health and performance. Our deluded corporate culture may still congratulate employees for working 24/7, but good ideas are much more valuable to a successful business than exhausted employees. They are the lightning in a bottle everyone is trying to capture.
Fourteen years ago, I began teaching history at a public high school in the Bronx. My students and colleagues were awesome, but I could see that the school where I was teaching did not have the same resources as the schools I'd attended. My colleagues and I spent a lot of our own money on copy paper and pencils, but we often couldn't afford the resources that would get our students excited about learning. We'd talk in the teachers' lunchroom about books our students should read, a field trip we wanted to take, or a microscope that would bring science to life. "Crowdfunding" wasn't yet a word, but I figured there were people out there who'd love to help -- if they could see where their money was going. Fourteen years later, more than a million donors have supported projects reaching 10 million students in low-income communities, demonstrating that micro philanthropists can have a macro impact.