We’ll be saying more about the matter of feeling good, but want to dispel one possible misunderstanding at this point: feeling good does not entail self-absorption or misuse of others. Those who feel good on the inside are good to others; those who take at the expense of others, or do harm to others, do so from states of negative feeling that include, but are not limited to, pain, fear and frustration. Those who see themselves as superior, or who are always defending their status against the competition, never feel good; feeling good always means working with others rather than against them.
But often, self-worth in our culture is proven by how bad one feels. Next time you’re in the office, notice that everyone feels compelled to discuss their business and exhaustion. It begins to sound like a competition for who is the most overworked! We’re not saying that you shouldn’t acknowledge the times when challenges and demands disrupt a balanced life, but that it is illuminating to realize how deeply people need to justify themselves by telling everyone how tired or stressed they are. It’s become a cultural trope: 42% of Americans took no vacation in 2014, but not because they love their job. More often, “overwork” is actually an admission that you don’t get pleasure out of your work. Our prerequisite for becoming and being a leader is simply this: if you don’t feel energized by it, don’t do it.