A CEO Says "Extreme Moderation" Could be the Best Thing for Your Career

Nicole Singh

Step trackers, sleep trackers, super-elixir wellness powders, productivity apps…it’s safe to say our society has a thing for high-performance. In fact, you could say that we’re extreme perfectionists; looking for success in every avenue of our lives (even sleep). One look at any CBD office will justify this idea: Long hours, constant connectivity, and unquestioned loyalty to weekend emails being instant signposts that you are good at your job. In an article for Harvard Business Review, CEO and author, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox reminisces: “At work, extremism and workaholism have become a badge of honour. Executives compete with each other, as did the two CEOs sitting behind me on a plane last week, on how many days a year they fly.” Sound familiar?

I too fall into this false economy easily. Worried that leaving at 5 p.m. or taking a full lunch break looks a little…lazy. Even though I know that it’s encouraged in the team. But, according to Cox, this is because it is so deeply ingrained in our culture. Cox also testifies that learning the art of “extreme moderation” is the secret to her success, “I do everything with the deliberate intent of finding a balance between two extremes—doing nothing and doing too much. I want to do a reasonable job at the different parts of my life and a stellar job at the balance between all of them.” 

Cox also suggests that the only way to find a healthy balance in anything, is to be extreme with your resolve to be moderate. Setting clear boundaries and devoting our time to asking what we really want out of life. Harder said that done right? Cox suggests giving yourself a quick audit: Reviewing your last seven years, and looking at what ratio of your time fell into different things. Where was too much energy given? Next up: Assessing the next seven years and looking at what balance you would like and where you would like more time to be spent. 

And while running at full-pace towards your goals is nothing to be ashamed of, perhaps finding balance will help women channel our new-found liberation strategically: Staying at the top, for longer (while also being happier and healthier). Cox concluded the article perfectly: “Today, I am neither superrich nor superfit nor supersuccessful. But I have just enough of each to qualify in my own personal marathon, the race for a balanced life.”

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