Maybe someone needs to read this article. As encouragement. The intent is to bring balance to some pervasive thinking in the world right now. It’s about the value of work; more specifically the balance of work. Driven by the convergence of a global health crisis, major cultural shifts, and now economic turmoil, the past 2.5 years have been devastating in different ways for all of us. This period in history has really inflicted physical, emotional, mental, and now career damage to us all. No one has been exempt from the toll this period of time has taken.
For background, my career has evolved to be deeply centered on the care of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are my calling – to care, coach, consult with, counsel, encourage, and move forward the entrepreneurial person. I myself am an entrepreneur currently in the throes of running 2 full time businesses (with other failed businesses in my wake). For almost 30 years, I’ve been focused on entrepreneurship. I believe the entrepreneur is a unique type of person that needs a special order of care (and here I describe myself): emotional, a little chaotic and disorganized, addicted to ‘freedom’ (whatever that means), oversized visions, extreme hope and optimism, and a penchant for self-centeredness and self-aggrandizing.
Entrepreneurial accounting firm owners…. the pool of entrepreneurship I swim in – and my partner and I do it mainly with firm entrepreneurs in the accounting profession; those who have decided to take on their own shoulders the full weight of the care and providence of their own personal lives, teams, and future as they lead their own firm. I love these people.
With all of this said and the more global view of entrepreneurship I have (with 4 to 6 hours per week of coaching and consulting directly with entrepreneurs in private settings), I want to let you know a constant message we hear in the marketplace: that people are pulling away from their work. You probably see this too (in cultural shifts such as The Great Resignation, etc.). It’s as if the world has become scared of their work. Fearful that it will consume them, take over their life, or take away their rest and relaxation. And can you blame anyone? Look at what we’ve all been through these past 2.5 years.
But work is not the sum total of the problem, so it shouldn’t take the hit that it’s taking right now.
Aside from trying to argue that the 40 hour work week is an early 20th century creation famously popularized by Henry Ford, work in and of itself is not the culprit of our hurt and demise these past 2.5 years. It’s quite the contrary – work is [one of] the wonderful places where we fulfill our mission and purposes as people and one of the places where we can explore the value we can add to the world. Of course I’m biased so I obviously have a lens for the things I’m saying. But you have a lens too. We all do. And I want this article to be a place where I can hopefully challenge our lenses. I hope it will encourage you as it encourages me to write about what has been on my heart for the accounting entrepreneur.
More than any other time in my career history, my 60 to 65 hours per week of work (due to owning two businesses) are highly organized, structured, and void of chaos. I produce probably 1 to 2 times more valuable output of work than I ever did earlier in my career. I lay all of this out there so that you can feel the weight of where I’m coming from – my work schedule and the encouragement or disgust you may find in what I’m putting down in print.
I love it. I love the people I serve, I love the people I do this work with, I love the transformations I see take place everyday, I love the joy of letting all of my value out in to the world, I love how it returns value to me in new experiences and the immense learning I take in every week, what it does for our companies, and how it is part of how I care for my family. To be honest, there is way too much value in me to be contained in a 40 hour work week (again, someone made up the 40 hour work week). I’m not even saying that I’m that valuable, but I do know my desire to love and serve entrepreneurs, and do know they need care. So marry up my desire to serve them, and their need for care, and you have a valuable union. I am valuable and I get to prove it every day in my work. You are valuable too.
As I wind this article down, let me take a turn here to say I am not trying to promote that anyone should work more hours. How much someone works, and what they do for a living is so very intimate and subjective to each person that no one can dictate that for someone else, which is why my partner and I would never dictate our schedules even to our team members, whom we love. We hire our team to work full time, 40 hours per week – and some work a little more because they love our mission too. On the contrary, the point of this article is to offer some balance to the world. I believe many entrepreneurs in this world have leaned away from their work in ways that they will feel the fall out 10, 15, and 20 years from now (and for many, for all of the right reasons). But for others that do have to work more than 40 hours per week (entrepreneurs, I’m talking to you), I don’t want you to feel guilty for what you do or be ashamed in this culture that suggests you are making unhealthy choices if you are not in a four day work week structure. To be sure, you may be unhealthy – but don’t just blame work. That blame goes both ways and it all boils down to our own personal choices. It can be unhealthy to work too much, and it can be unhealthy to keep all of your value for your purpose to yourself (in whatever way that can look for all of us).
Balance is the key, and I dare say that balance is elusive and will be something we seek the remainder of our careers. As I shared with a team member the other day: “you do know that balance is not something you’ll ever achieve right? It is a goal for all of us to seek and manage and grow in, but it’s not a magical location any of us will arrive at and be done.” She was taken aback and expressed relief from the ongoing search for the perfect work/life balance that our current culture places on us. You don’t have to be scared of work~ it’s not a monster that will consume you. As an entrepreneur, work is what you make it, and it does not control you. You work as much as you need to in order to achieve your goals. Some work more and some work less, and we all have to have the right conversations with the people around us (teammates, family, partners, etc.) to make sure we stay on the same page as to what work requires of us as we pour our intimate value out into the world.
I will state the point again: balance is the key. I’m not trying to promote more work, but I am speaking to some of you to say that you may have leaned a little too far away from the place where you find your joy in work, give the world your value, and grow deeply as a person in ways you never would otherwise. So please, the next time you make a list for someone of all the things that makes a person healthy, please include work on that list right beside vacation, rest, exercise, and vegetables.
Jason founded Thriveal in 2010 as a way to help entrepreneurial CPA firm owners connect, learn, and grow. He serves as the Visionary and CEO of Thriveal, and his partner Julie Shipp serves as the Integrator and COO of the organization. Since 2010, Thriveal has helped many small firms grow by providing a community, coaching services, webinars, firm consulting, monthly growth groups, and live events. Deeper Weekend is the annual live event by Thriveal, now in its 10th year.
Jason is also the CEO of Blumer & Associates, CPAs. The firm was one of the first to move from a traditional office to a virtual environment in 2012, where they serve as an advisory firm for the design, marketing, and creative agency services niches. He and his partner focus on business consulting and coaching with the owners and partners of firms and agencies, while their team meets the technical and financial compliance needs of the customer.