SAN ANGELO, Texas — The phrase "work-life balance" holds varying interpretations, yet the consistent notion remains the importance of establishing harmony between work and personal pursuits.
Throughout time, business magnates and CEOs have offered their perspectives on "work-life balance." Some prominent business figures, like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, don't endorse the phrase, advocating instead for a different approach. Bezos asserts that the relationship between work and life, or work and personal activities, resembles more of a "circle" than a balancing act.
Bezos elucidated that aiming for "work-life harmony," not "balance," is crucial. He criticized the concept of work-life balance, deeming it "debilitating" as it implies a trade-off. The world's second-wealthiest individual explained, "It's not a work-life balance; it's actually a circle." He emphasized that feeling content at home rejuvenates and augments productivity at work. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos' net worth stands at $167 billion, positioning him just behind Elon Musk.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, aligns with Bezos regarding the goal of work-life harmony over balance. Speaking with the Australian Financial Review in 2019, Nadella shared his belief. He shifted his mindset from striving for a balance between relaxation and work to aligning his "deep interests" with his professional endeavors.
Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of TIAA, conveyed to Fortune CEO Alan Murray that "work-life balance is a lie." Duckett acknowledged past struggles with the pressure to equally divide her time and efforts between work, motherhood, and family obligations. She realized that viewing life as a "portfolio," dedicating distinct time to various roles like wife, mother, and executive, made more sense. Duckett emphasized being fully present during the time spent with her children, even if she couldn't attend every event.
Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global and HuffPost, challenges the dichotomy between productivity and relaxation. She advocates for an integrated approach, asserting that improvements in one's personal life translate to enhancements in professional life. Huffington emphasizes prioritizing one's personal life, stating that while work provides purpose and meaning, it should not supersede life itself. She told Great Place to Work, "Work is a part of a thriving life, but life should come first."
Elon Musk presents a different viewpoint. Known for his intense work ethic, Musk expects a similar dedication from his employees. Upon taking over X, he sent an email requiring employees to commit fully to work or leave the company. Reports indicated that employees at X worked 84 hours per week. Musk criticized the shift to remote work and prioritizing family responsibilities, considering it "morally wrong." The billionaire entrepreneur reportedly dedicates a staggering 120 hours per week to work, averaging 17 hours a day.
Ultimately, finding a balance or harmony between work and personal life remains crucial. Whether supporting the idea of work and life working together harmoniously, as advocated by Bezos and others, or endorsing Musk's approach of prioritizing work, the decision lies in personal prerogative.