© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting,
Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
and Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.
Workaholism is an addiction. It’s the illusion, and associated
destructive behaviors caused from that illusion, that a person
can effectively address challenges in life and work exclusively
by working harder at work.
The addiction seems to follow this cycle. Discomforts in life
and work cause the person to seek relief from those discomforts.
The primary form of relief that the person (the “workaholic”)
has access to, and believes in the most, is to feel good by accomplishing
something as part of their job at work. So the workaholic attends
to getting something done at work. However, as the workaholic
attends increasingly to getting things done at work, their personal
life begins to suffer from lack of attention. As their personal
life suffers, it causes more discomfort for the workaholic, so
the workaholic works even harder at getting more things done at
work, causing their personal lives to suffer even more — and
the vicious cycle, or compulsive work syndrome, goes on and on.
One of the most difficult problems in recovering from workaholism
is that the workaholic’s hard work is often viewed by the person’s
superiors (supervisors and upper management) as superior performance,
so they are rewarded for their hard work. Fortunately, many people
in organizations are learning to recognize the signs of workaholism
and to realize that, ultimately, the addiction hurts the person’s
Various Perspectives on Workaholism
and Inspiring Yourself
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