The Answer Isn’t What You Think

What’s real wealth?  The newest luxury toys?  A new luxury car or the latest HDTV?  Having enough stable income that you can order all the new Apple products the very day they come out?

Some would argue yes – that’s the answer – I nailed it.  For the record, I don’t disagree.  I certainly enjoy those things.  But I think I have a better overall answer.

Real wealth is, as the legendary consultant Alan Weiss says, “discretionary time.”


Jason Fried puts it perfectly in his book Rework: “Workaholics aren’t heroes.  They don’t save the day; they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.

When you find yourself obsessively refreshing Twitter or Facebook from the office – you are very wrong.

If you find yourself bored at work in general – you are wrong.

If you find yourself bored and wandering around with the latest batch of gossip – you are wrong.  I don’t know how else to put it.

At work if you are effectively tasked and employed your tasks should fill each workday without impacting your overall quality of life.


Tasks and action items must have clearly defined parameters.  As a professional, you should be able to identify with certainty when these tasks are complete.

But, who among us doesn’t know the person that comes in early and stays late solely because they hate their life?

I know about 50 of them, as a matter of fact.  Sadly, I can also tell you that most of them are either highly overpaid or in positions of authority.

I often notice in many organizations some employees are tasked until “the bell rings” while others enjoy quite a bit of water cooler time.  As a leader it is your job, and no one else’s, to ensure the health and welfare of your subordinates.

Don’t punish performers for being performers.  It’s easy to do so inadvertently as they often shoulder more responsibility than others under you.

Remember, it is your job as a leader to distribute the tasks evenly across the spectrum of employees you have at your disposal.


Trust me when I tell you this, and I’m not trying to brag, I’m a busy man.  Having said that, as a leader I try to follow the advice I’d give my direct reports “If you don’t have anything to do, don’t do it here.”

Babysitting adults, especially when they are bored, has never been on my to do list.   People get paid a professional salary and, amazingly, I expect them to act like they deserve it.  People often forget to earn the money being paid them.

When you set your daily goals and set about slaying them be sure you understand the completion point.

When the work is done, go home.  When the job is done, the job is done.

Rarely do I see compensation packages that pay more for staying later for salaried employees.  Most organizations I’m familiar with make their employees explain overtime.  I’m guessing the explanation provided never includes the words “Well, I spent three hours on Facebook and YouTube so I stayed late and now you have to pay me.

We know what wrong looks like.  If you don’t, I will explain it this way: It’s the opposite of right.

If you know what the right answer is – by definition the opposite of right is wrong.

Don’t be wrong.  It may not feel like it, but it is under your control.

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