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  • Writer's pictureScott Behson

Have You Bought Into the Cult of Overwork?

Here’s a quick checklist from Greg Marcus’ book “Busting Your Corporate Idol” that can tell you if you are exhibiting signs of chronic overwork and have internalized corporate “work before all” priorities.

Have we turned our employer into a "Corporate Idol"?

Have we turned our employer into a “Corporate Idol”?

Greg Marcus recently wrote a great book “Busting Your Corporate Idol: How to Reconnect with Values and Regain Control of Your Life.” He describes corporate idolatry as the state in which one looks to their career/job/employer as a “false god” above other more important priorities such as family, health and religion.

He is not saying that one shouldn’t be dedicated to work and to strive for advancement and excellence; rather that we need to keep work in its proper place in our hierarchy of priorities. Corporate idolatry goes to far when it ruins marriages, diminishes family, and leads to health problems. His book describes Corporate Idolatry and provides advice for those wishing to break the habit of looking to one’s employer as one’s primary source of self-identity. I highly recommend the book. (Disclosure: Greg is a professional friend but I received no remuneration, not even a free book, for this post.)

Greg Marcus’ book

Today, I just want to share with you one piece of the book I found particularly illuminating. Based on interviews with people who currently feel overworked and with some who have broken the habit, Marcus presents a short checklist for his readers. The more you say “yes” to these items, the more likely it is that you are overworked and have allowed “company first” values to outrank other life values. Recognition is the first step towards fixing a problem.

9 Ways to Tell If You Have Bought Into the Cult of Overwork

1. You find yourself doing “what is best for the company” instead of “what is best” (What is best for the company is not necessarily what is best for people: customers, employees, the public, those in your life)

2. You joke that you are ‘married to the company”

3. You are getting persistent feedback from a loved one that you are working too many hours

4. You are experiencing health-related illnesses, such as insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, weight gain

5. You work more than 60 hours a week

6. You don’t care how you treat others at work as long as the work gets done

7. You are considered successful in your career, yet unfulfilled in ways you cannot define

8. Someone has stated that “you are drinking the Kool-Aid”

9. You feel indispensable to the company and fear that if you work less or say “no”, the company will suffer (this often indicates a common rationalization of overworkers justifying their hours because they over-rate their centrality to the company)

If you said yes to more than one or two of these items, it may be time to consider your life priorities and whether work is getting in the way of a full life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these, and Greg has agreed to participate in the comments section, so fire away!

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* Marcus’ checklist actually has 10 items, but I left one out because it required some background from the book to effectively describe

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