My boss tells me the only way to get ahead is to sacrifice my personal life. Is he right?

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Q: I’m in a field where workaholism is normal. I’ve got young kids, I love my wife, and I don’t want to blink and find my life is over. My boss tells me the only way to get ahead is to sacrifice my personal life. Is he right?

A: No. “Getting ahead” can only be defined by you. Your boss is correct that many people gain a lot of money by sacrificing their personal life. Your boss probably didn’t add that these same people also gain divorces, heart attacks and children who are strangers.

Having worked with many people at the top, I can tell you that most of them acknowledge that their willingness to sacrifice their health, their loved ones and their peace of mind has to do with childhood ghosts. Ambitious people may tell themselves, “Once I’m corporate royalty, I’ll never again feel (insert intolerable emotion).”

If you are not being chased by demons from your past, you are unlikely to be willing to work 12-hour days, give up weekends, and put an IV from your cellphone and laptop directly into your brain.

Don’t let your boss convince you that the road to success requires giving up all life balance. There’s been a great deal of research on working smart, not just working hard. Studies have repeatedly proved that workaholics are less — not more — productive.

The truth is that we all need time to disengage our brains, connect to people we love, and play. Another truth is that many brilliant solutions have been stumbled over in moments when a scientist wasn’t actively trying to solve the problem.

If you were to poll corporate America, you would find plenty of people who agree with your boss that getting ahead is about sacrifice. But just because plenty of people agree with this notion doesn’t mean sacrifice is the only road to success.

If you are trying to create your career from the outside to your inside, then you have to do the usual running around, trying to achieve your results by shooting a million arrows at the side of a barn. However, it’s not cheating to create your career from the inside to the outside so you just shoot one arrow and that arrow hits the bull’s-eye.

Creating your career from your inside to the outside means you listen to your intuition, you take the time to get to know what you want to do before you die, and you take the intelligent risks to do what matters to you.

If you believe sleep, health and loving relationships should not be collateral damage to your career, you will march to the beat of a different drummer. You may also be one of the pioneers creating that balance where you don’t have to sacrifice your life to experience success.

The last word(s)

Q: I just won a major workplace battle with a longtime enemy. I’m eager to give him a call and do a little gloating. Do you see any harm in enjoying my victory?

A: Yes. Losers tend to get even. If you want your victory to last, let your enemy save face.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author. She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at; or at Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to