“My old man worked hard. All they did was give him more work.”
— Larry Wilson, Weekend at Bernie’s
There are people that take pride in being the last one at work, their car always in the parking lot, their light the only one on in an otherwise pitch-black office. Their career is their life. They’re still at their desk while the cleaning crew vacuums around them.
In a society in which employers hold more sway over us than even the government, is it really a surprise that so many Americans don’t use their vacation time? There’s a reason corporations and organizations give employees laptops and iPhones so that they’re available 24/7/365, working on holidays, weekends, and past midnight, all without a bonus or overtime pay.
The idea behind all this work is not only that it makes you valuable, but that it makes you irreplaceable. Only, that’s not true. No amount of work, no number of hours will make you indispensable. No one is indispensable. If the founder of a company can be fired, then anyone can. CEOs get removed. Dictators get overthrown. Workaholics lose their jobs just like everyone else.
Everything is temporary, particularly in the gig economy.
If the work is what matters — and it is — then the focus should be on quality, not quantity. It should be all about efficiency rather than output. A strong work ethic is a virtue, but working all the time doesn’t guarantee success or wealth.
Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people on Earth, has always valued his work/life balance, stressing the value of saying no to things that will take his most precious and valuable resource: his time.
He’s not the only one.
Jeff Bezos is the richest man in history, the head of a trillion-dollar company, but even he works a regular shift:
“I set my first meeting for 10 a.m.,” he explains.
“By 5:00 p.m., I’m like ‘I can’t think about this today, let’s try that again tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.,’” Bezos says with a laugh.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., not 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
So the next time you encounter someone that’s proud to be the last one in the office, just remember that even aspiring supervillains that will soon take over the world knock off at five o’clock.
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.