Consider what happened to an entrepreneur I’ll call Taylor, who quickly soared up the ranks in her company. Like many of the others I’d spoken to, she also poured herself into her company by working 70 to 80 hours a week, eating all her meals at work, limiting her social circle to co-workers, until her entire life orbited around the company. Like John, Taylor had faith that her devotion would be rewarded by a highly anticipated corporate acquisition, when the company’s value would be precisely realized.
But when the acquisition fell through, she said, it “broke my heart … I couldn’t do it anymore, and so I left.” She spiraled into a yearlong existential crisis that she described as a “death of self.” Taylor depended on work so fully for her identity and meaning that once she left her job, she didn’t know who she was anymore.
“Who am I? What do I value?” she asked herself. “I didn’t even know these things because I gave everything to work.” With her sense of self so long tethered to her company’s performance, the failed acquisition revealed to her the poverty of a worldview that reduces “values” to mere dollars and cents.