http://www.forbes.com/2006/05/20/working-rich-pyschology_cx_bn_06work_0523rich.html By Brett Nelson
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Don't waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it."
1. Peter followed that advice for much of his career, but today he might beg to differ with Emerson. ("Peter" is a pseudonym, but his story--and that of other wealthy workaholics--is very real.) The son of a modest Texas farmer, Peter wanted a bigger, grander life than his father led, and he worked hard to get it. By age 30, he was running a regional bank and had a wife and two kids.
2. Over the next two decades, he moved his family 12 times--twice overseas. At 50, he was president of a large financial services firm in New York City. He owned a restored Georgian in a leafy suburb, a ski chalet in Telluride and a small compound in the Caribbean. He traveled for work incessantly; his board connections led to bids at the most exclusive golf clubs. Peter had become a bona-fide world beater.
3. Then, one day, his wife of 30 years declared: "I don't love you anymore. I need a new life." His kids piled on, saying he'd never "been there" for them. After logging three-quarters of each year on the road, Peter realized he had no real friends to confide in. He got divorced, drank heavily and eventually left his job. Peter's net worth had crossed the eight-figure mark years before his life unraveled. He could have hopped off the hamster wheel with plenty of time and riches to spare. And yet he kept running.
4. "[That behavior] is rampant," says psychologist Robert Mintz, founder of New Executive Strategies, a management consultancy in Short Hills, N.J. "It's the kind of thing people don't talk about--especially men."
5. Mintz has gotten a rare glimpse at the underbelly of tireless ambition. In 2000, after 20 years working with hundreds of multimillionaires as a human resources manager for Revlon, Pepsico, Time Warner and Electronic Data Systems, he left corporate life to finish his Ph.D. in psychology.
6. His dissertation dealt with the messy motivations of workaholic executives. As part of his research, Mintz conducted four-hour interviews with 25 execs, each worth between $5 million and $500 million. Some admitted that they had grown accustomed to the glittery perks of success: toys, praise, glory. But there were darker themes, too.
7. Some of the men craved the chance to keep proving themselves, perhaps to a doubting authority figure from their past. Others saw work as a getaway from a stale marriage. Still others said they wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they weren't working. More time with friends? Many of them had no close friends. Hobbies? You can only play so many rounds of golf. Travel? "They probably want to burn their passports," says Mintz.
8. What about raw greed? "In our culture, the accumulation of money is equated with--or more precisely, confused with--personal security and one's self-esteem," says Robert Katz, associate professor at New York University's postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. "My Wall Street patients seem to be driven by an unquestioned belief in the value of making money regardless of personal cost. Although this looks like greed, it is actually an attempt to feel secure." Translation: The need to feel safe and secure swamps any perception of the financial security rich people already have.
9. The irony here is that, for many wealthy workaholics, hard work feels less stressful than sitting at home. "The thought of having to sit still [and deal with] their inner demons is terrifying," says Mintz. "Quiet is untenable."
10. Women workaholics seem able to walk away more easily than men--and not just because they want to spend more time with their kids, notes psychologist Wanda Wallace, president of Leadership Forum, another management consultancy. In 2004, Wallace surveyed 64 female senior executives at firms like Deutsche Bankand PriceWaterhouseCoopers to explore how these women mustered the courage to leave corporate life. A big reason: "For women, it is socially acceptable to do something else," says Wallace. "It's hard for a guy to justify that he's going to run the nonprofit." Women also tend to maintain a broader base of contacts outside of work than men do, thus easing the transition.
11. To be sure, some wealthy workaholics really do enjoy their work. Yet "there is a difference between 'I love what I do' and 'I can't conceive of doing something else,' " says Peter White, vice chairman of U.S. Trustand former managing director at Citigroup's private bank. "One is a volunteer; the other is a prisoner."
12. As an adviser on personal issues of wealth, White has seen his share of prisoners--people who have accomplished everything but nevertheless are working very hard and wondering why. The disturbing answer: Work becomes a substitute for greater meaning in their lives. "I had a guy come to me and say, 'I've got $40 million. Do you think it's enough?' " White recalls. "He meant, Was it enough to be happy and safe? The correct answer is no. You won't find [those things] with $4 billion. You're looking for 'enough' in the wrong place."
Even old Emerson would buy that.
b) Answer the following questions:
· What, in your opinion, do Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words mean?
· What happened to Peter?
· What animal is he compared with? Why?
· Why are motivations of workaholic executives called messy?
· What could be the examples of ‘toys’ mentioned in the article?
· What are the reasons why workaholic executives keep working?
· What does the phrase ‘They probably want to burn their passports’ mean?
· According to the article, is it true that the more money you have the happier you are? Why or why not?
· Why does it seem easier for female executives to leave their jobs?
· According to the article, what is the difference between ‘volunteer’ and ‘prisoner’?
· According to the article, how much money is enough to feel happy and safe?