As I slowly prepare to move out of the house where I have spent the last 8 years with my family, I am sharing a shot of my home office; an environment designed to inspire work on projects and ideas that I believe in and serve as a reminder of the reasons I choose them: community, family, fellowship, martial arts, exploration and discovery. This office, and its visual emblems, come from decades of hard-won wisdom about my relationship to work, and what its purpose needs to be in my life.
When I was younger, I used to believe work was what defined me, and my financial success at this endeavor defined my worth as a person. I have since come to realize that this was an incredibly self-destructive frame of mind.
There is a much longer story behind how I learned this lesson, and the expensive toll they had on me physically and emotionally, but suffice to say, it was a clarifying experience, and one that I vowed never to repeat. For while it is noble and indeed necessary to work to provide for oneself and one's dependents, it is folly to sacrifice this sacred relationship to these very people at the altar of capitalism, ego, and greed.
I was reminded of these things today after someone who I have worked with over the last four years building a fairly successful startup essentially complained that he felt the success of our venture was not be "the most important thing in my life." This sentiment arose because, despite being the sole technologist for years at our cash-strapped enterprise, and deftly allowing us to grow at an incredible 4000% pace with zero resources to help me with my job and in fact working for years in the beginning without any salary, I regularly take time out during my work day to do personal things that are important to me.
So yes, he is right, work is not the most important thing in my life, for I learned some time ago that work is but one pillar in my life that I must balance with others, such as family, health, and community. In my experience, one cannot be sacrificed for another without serious consequences.
Today, my ambitions around work have become much more simple. I want to be a force for good, and work on projects that enable that. I measure my success around being the best version of myself that I can be. And I want to find and be with people who are authentic, kind, and have integrity.
I am still learning and discovering about myself, and trying to better myself every day. I hope you will join me in creating and advocating for an environment, a community, a family, or a workplace that supports that type of exploration for each of us and enables us to live sustainable, healthy and enriching lives.