The False Choice of Your Work or Your Well-Being

Bob Wiesner | December 18, 2018

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Plenty of us are stressed. We feel overworked. We’re exhausted.

It takes a toll on our health, our attitudes, our relationships.

No news here.

The solution is easy to see. Don’t work as hard. More specifically, don’t work as much.

As bosses, we’ve advised our people – and been told by our managers – “go home early/on time/not as late tonight.” Or “take some time off.” Or “don’t work this weekend.” Or “take that vacation.”

The advice is fine, often helpful, certainly well-intentioned.

It’s just not going to make a difference without other changes.

The Myth of Working Smarter

Consider this: You see the cause of your stress, your exhaustion as you not being sufficiently productive. So to be more productive, you’ll learn how to be more efficient. How to get more done in the amount of time you’ve got available.

In other words, you’ll learn how to work smarter.

There’s a good chance that’s not gonna work. In fact, it might make things worse.

If “work smart” means “be more efficient,” that’s fine. But what are you actually working on? What are you producing?

Many or most of the things you’re doing at work might be important to the job or the client. They might be leveraging your skills. If you get good at producing more, what’ll happen? You’ll be asked to produce even more.

And here’s the big question: What if those tasks, those skills are things you’re good at, but not things that energize you? In other words, not your strengths?

You Don’t Have to Choose

The research on strengths utilization is broad and deep. It findings strongly suggest this: When you’re doing things at work that you do really well, and that the company values, and that you’re passionate about doing, everyone benefits including your body and your mind.

That last bit – passion – can’t be overstated. When you do things that energize you, you naturally recharge your batteries. You don’t feel exhausted. You feel better when you get home from work. You eat and sleep better.

So the choice shouldn’t be work vs health. You can have both, if your work allows you to use your strengths.

Focus on Strengths

When you find work that energizes you, the advice in this HBR article is solid. Respect your limits, get the support you need, pace yourself.

And here’s the bit I think is most important.

Give it your best, not just your all.

Don’t think you can overcome stress and get healthier by doing more work. Think instead that the solution is doing the right work and doing it in the best possible way. Effectiveness and health ought to follow.

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The concept of focusing on strengths is easier for some of us to grasp than is to actually know what those strengths are and how best to engage them at work.

Our workshop call Managing Perceptions – Your Personal Brand is the solution you’ll need.

This a program that typically takes about six hours to complete, and can accommodate from 6 to 20 people. Everyone at your organization can benefit.

When your people know the value they bring and the strengths that energize them, they can be better assets to your teams and your clients. They’ll do better, more effective, more innovative work. They’ll be happier and stay at your firm longer. And their personal brands will be aligned with your company brand, giving you messages of differentiation at every client or customer touchpoint, internal and external.

Your leadership will need to know how to take full value from these individual brands, so you’ll want to consider bringing them onboard with the concepts very early.

To learn more, get in touch with us at

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