In recent years, the notion that entrepreneurs should work an intimidating number of hours per week to achieve their goals has gained traction in certain corporate circles. As one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, for example, Elon Musk is famous for his 100-hour workweeks. During Microsoft’s early days, CEO Bill Gates was known for working his software engineers and other staff around the clock prior to product launches.
For most people, however, the kind of work schedule that entrepreneurs like Musk and Gates keep is untenable and even unnecessary. James Crickmore believes that after a certain amount of work during the day, for example, most people tend to become less effective in their efforts. Moreover, professionals who want to spend time with their families will quickly find that a 100-hour workweek leaves no time for anyone or anything else in life. They may also find that their health and sense of well-being suffer under such grueling schedules.
But that hasn’t stopped a number of top CEOs from calling on people to spend even more time at the office. Never one to shy away from controversy, Chinese tech CEO Jack Ma recently advocated for the so-called “996” workweek at start-ups across the globe. Under this model, employees work at an office from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days per week. It should surprise no one that many of China’s most talented tech workers find this schedule to be brutal and counterproductive.
For most people, James Crickmore included, life can’t be completely about work and remain joyful. A strong work ethic is essential for success, of course, but even hardworking people need to take a break once in a while. In many ways, spending time with family or pursuing a hobby outside of work can mean the difference between career success and career burnout; if we’re constantly exhausted and irritable, in other words, we will struggle to achieve our true potential in the workplace.
In a world where burnout leads to dissatisfaction even among people who are passionate about their work, James Crickmore believes that it only makes sense to place a high priority on a good work-life balance over the course of a career. We would never believe that neglecting to put oil in a car would benefit the car’s engine, and yet we are inundated with stories about entrepreneurs and CEOs who never allow their minds or bodies to recuperate from punishing work schedules. Clearly, something is wrong in the way that we think about our working lives.
As entrepreneurs, this is doubly true. Without a work-life balance, the passion that drove people such as James Crickmore to start a company can dry up very quickly. And once that motivating force is gone, very few of us will feel the drive to take our companies to the next level. Truly, that is an outcome that no entrepreneur should have to face.