Karoshi is what happens when work takes over your life. It’s not unusual in Japan to know someone who suffers this fate since working hard is endemic to the culture. Karoshi happens in America in a different way. It happens when one least expects it. The American Dream is a nonstop, life-altering pursuit of something big, often at personal expense.

While Karoshi is an end game in Japan, it’s a process in America. The goal is to identify the dream and go after it until kingdom come. Steve Jobs, the greatest entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, worked until his last days. He was talking “shop” on his death bed. Money and the competition was always on his mind.According to a survey, 4 in 10 Americans did not take a day off in 2015. Fortunately, I was not one of them. 🙂

Is there an antidote to Karoshi? Can balance be achieved? I believe the answer lies in finding purpose and meaning. One cannot escape bills and family responsibilities. Without income, it’s impossible to fund your passion.

If one can replace the lust for money by the lust for meaning, it’s possible to live a more balanced life. These are not entirely contradictory values, but a healthier outcome awaits those on a mission. You will spend most of your life with people to accomplish your goals. You will be better off with the right team. A longer life awaits those leaning towards helping others and their families.

John Doerr, a Silicon Valley VC, shared this slide below comparing two types of entrepreneurs who pitch him for funding. He prefers passionate missionaries seeking balance and meaning.

Which one are you? 


Source: John Doerr, KPCB



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