A Workaholic’s Worth

I’ve always been frustrated by the word “workaholic.” Even if you wear the title as a badge of honor, others view the term as a one-way ticket to burnout. Many associate the term with its addictive connotations. And still, others view being a workaholic as some form of surrender, giving in to a lifestyle devoid of passion, where one only exists as a cog in some larger machine. Few would find being so dedicated relaxing, but in a world of constant uncertainty, I find being a workaholic provides balance and purpose.

I firmly believe there is a priori value in work as the byproduct of our existence and that it is intrinsically tied to our worth as human beings. The work — the labor, the creativity, the effort — that we produce is our contribution to the world. Skills we put to work are not just talents that we possess but are also gifts we give to others through our work.

I refuse to sit idly by and not offer my gifts in service to humanity: we should all strive to share our gifts with others. Purpose-driven work provides such opportunity. Indeed, the true task of the entrepreneur is to amplify work because by creating jobs, I provide opportunities for others to actualize their own gifts through their work. What better way to be a workaholic than to create more opportunities for purposeful work in the world?

Of course, having an identity so closely tied to work is not without its drawbacks. Many believe that this type of existence is self-serving. Surely, workaholics labor tirelessly because of an insatiable desire for wealth, fame, power, or some other self-serving goal! But true workaholics are too obsessed with the work to care about the money or fame; adding a sense of moral urgency and purpose only heightens the non-monetary stakes.

Like many other purpose-driven entrepreneurs, my dedication to work has always been more closely linked to my desire to serve. I wish to fulfill my obligations to the people I know, humanity beyond, and the planet I inhabit. Work gives me that outlet to express that desire to serve. I seek to enjoy life as a perpetual labor of love.

Yet even with my deep love affair with my companies and the solutions we hope to offer for challenges in our society, I honestly have days when work gets under my skin. There are moments when l want to throw in the towel in frustration and embrace a carefree life, exempt from duty or obligation. Exhaustion and burnout are the pernicious silent partner in every high-energy startup: workaholics, even those with the proper passion and temperament, are not immune.

All workaholics need those moments when we actively choose to disengage: for me, I put down my phone, turn off my computer, and give way to self-care. I hang out with friends, travel, go to a concert, or whatever else it takes to unwind. However, the call of service always beckons me, for the work is a siren itself. Brief moments away serve only to sharpen the intensity and fulfillment that comes when returning to work and serving others.

I cannot imagine a more worthwhile and fulfilling enterprise than working to build purpose-driven companies. Solving problems and creating opportunities to elevate the work of others are potent intoxicants. Such work focuses my gaze and offers meaning, making a workaholic mindset relaxing rather than intense. Being a workaholic is not simply a desire to get more; it is a desire to give more. Our actions reflect on our character. I want people to say that I tried to make a difference, and work offers a conduit through which I can serve others. Frustrating as it could be, a purpose-driven workaholic’s work is never done: the difference is that we’re happier for it.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store