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During my time as a management consultant, on one particular day I ended my work at 6 am

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

I was brain dead, exhausted, and nauseating on my third cup of coffee. Though my manager & partner were kind to me and thanked me for my time, but the situation with the client didn't change much. Such extreme working hours had become a weekly affair on that project. The fact of the matter was while I had gotten 3 hours of sleep, my manager got none. That was his way of demonstrating his commitment to his work and the organization. Because of his years spent in consulting, he was by that time used to such working style. To be fair, I wouldn't paint the entire consulting industry with a broad brush as I did find some amazing managers and partners who would ensure managing timely wrap-up and created great work culture. I, however, on the other hand, have viscerally and tactfully expressed my discontentment with such life draining working hours and styles. They just happen to massage a few #people egos but largely don't contribute net positive to anyone. In fact, once my manager had questioned me why do I happen to dislike it so much! I was appalled by the question! The thing is, I have never accepted "fitting in" at work to just get social proof. If 99% of the folks are thinking wrong, I have never found merit in following the herd behavior. If something is abnormal, then it must be changed slowly and tactfully. Late nights may be needed but it should not be accepted anywhere at work. The Industrial Age has made us believe that it is alright to slog. But frankly in today's "knowledge economy", one needs to learn right things, perform smartly and have leverage than just clock in hours from home! Our entire generation is logging in at 8 AM and logging off at 11 pm on our systems just to implicitly communicate to our managers that we are there! Working all night or consistently making your team work along with you till late nights doesn't show any commitment or superiority-- it perhaps is a badge of incompetence and insecurity. I am not the most experienced professional on this planet. I am 30, lead a team of 20 today, and have a very long life ahead of me. But I am very clear about one thing in this lifetime. On my deathbed, I want to remember the long walks, the happy dinners, and the time spent with my loved ones and not the long exposure to endless meetings, zoom calls, and the PowerPoint presentations. Trust me the world will go on just fine without these life draining tools!

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Author- Shatakshi Sharma, Cofounder Global Governance Initiative, Ex- BCG, Advisor, Tony Blair Institute

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