How often have you had that conversation with an old friend that you hadn't seen in a while, that turns into a bragging war of who is busier? You didn't even go into it wanting to brag, but as your friend starts telling you about her crazy timetable and how she is so busy, you automatically start dishing out details of your own business so that eventually, you come to a stand-off.
"I sleep four hours a night."
"I haven't been on holiday in a year."
"I literally don't have time to eat."
That's how busy people tell you they are. But in fact, half of them are keeping busy by updating all of their social media following with every little annoying detail of their day. And the other half are trying to fill a void in their life by piling chores and commitments they don't really need - to keep busy.
Then there are people that work in industries that worship fanatic commitment and 90+ hour workweeks, such as investment banking. Even though such a schedule is hardly sustainable in the long term, no one is trying to curtail such corporate cultures. On the contrary, a lot of the time they are encouraged.
A young intern will seldom find his or her boss telling him to take it easy or go home early and disconnect from work and emails. It is a highly esteemed quality in a young person just starting out in the workplace to be extremely committed, available 24/7, first one in - last one out.
This does not change when you become older, more experienced and progress to a higher position within an organization. In the same week that I heard Arianna Huffington talk about the importance of disconnecting from the mundane and reconnecting with yourself, I also heard an advertising executive boast to an audience of young professionals about his lack of sleep and long working hours.
In fact, you will rarely find someone successful tell you they made it through anything other than hard work, blood, sweat and tears and of course, long, sleepless nights. That wouldn't make sense, right? How could it ever be right to tell anyone, that you don't owe your success to sheer grind, but actually quite the opposite?
I say it could. The long hours you spend in the office won't automatically lead to that shiny success dream you always had. They might lead to exhaustion and health issues. They might make you neglect the people that truly matter to you. They might make you miss out on your own life, now. And actually, the more you spend in that office, the less productive you are there, past a certain point of course.
So I also say: if we are going to talk about what we do and how much we do, then at least let's be honest about it. Let's stop inflating our business. Let's stop thinking that success equals how much you work and that how much you work equals how important you are. Because to those few special people that really matter in your life, you are awesome and more important than you could ever be in a workplace.