Work/Life: If Confucius Were Alive Today

Today is the birth anniversary of Confucius. The influential philosopher was born in 551 BC, and, unlike me, is pretty much synonymous with sage advice and deep meaning. The very phrase "Confucius say…" prepares us for something profound. Not so the phrase "Tom Stern say…" but what is the blogosphere if not a place to try and make an impact on the history of human thought?

I like to think each of us who seek balance in our lives carries within us the heart of a poet/philosopher. True, most of my attempts at poetry begin with something like "There once was a man from Nantucket," but in honor of a great thinker I have compiled a Top Ten list of Confucius-like sayings that may, if fate is kind, also be quoted thousands of years later by people trying to get a grip on their over-reliance on work.

Of course, the hope is that we will have actually achieved work/life balance in a few thousand years, so in the best-case scenario they won’t be needed at all. Why, that far into the future we’ll probably all be living until we’re two hundred in giant biospheres, getting our nutrition through tubes that reconstitute the contents of landfills into delicious nutrient shakes, making it unnecessary to ever leave home or have a job again. Or, maybe not. In any case, here’s my humble contribution to the here and now.

Tom Stern Say:

1.It is not the length of your commute that matters; it is the quality of your Books-On-Tape.
2.Skip not breakfast.
3.Your baby’s first steps only happen once. But the pain of being kicked in the groin for missing them radiates outward for hours.
4.We humans control nothing, and are ultimately powerless. Deal with it.
5.No act of kindness is ever wasted. Unless purchased at the last minute from flowers.com in a pathetic attempt to apologize for your latest transgression.
6.Wise is the person who uses Power Point and Excel to schedule quality time with loved ones instead of for boring old cost analysis spreadsheets.
7.For it is said that companies with in-house day care should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
8.Fear not, for one day, soccer will not be so incredibly popular, and you will have one less pick-up/drop-off responsibility about which to stress.
9.Our children require only our support and love, no matter what life endeavor they choose to pursue. Unless it’s being a musician.
10. Foolish man mistakenly cleans out bank account when attempting to do an online trade at same time as talking with spouse on speaker phone.

Words to live by. Well, maybe. Perhaps you have some Confucian wisdom of your own?

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3 Comments

  • Joe Raasch

    Find something that you can obsess about (in a good way). You'll travel to incredible places and meet interesting people while on your quest - as lifelong as it is.

    My obsession is the perfect piece of chocolate cake.

  • Jonathan260

    Spreadsheets never lie; just spreadsheet makers.
    If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.
    Life is bound to repeat itself. Pay attention the first time.
    People are more likely to do the right thing when you only give them one option.