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The 100 hour work week is a lie

Hustle hustle hustle - Said the depressed, anxious, unhappy high-achiever.

As recent events at the Óbudai University about a student ending his own life, made waves in the news, on behalf of our team, I'd like to share some of the thoughts we hold dear, some that we've experienced and we ought to avoid in the future, not just us as Cogito, but we as a society.

Working 100-120 hours a week for years, sleeping only six hours every day, not having anything besides your business and the vision of you succeeding and proving everyone wrong. Hacking your habits, hacking your biology, becoming a guru, giving talks at conferences, being invited to speak about the charismatic leadership secrets. You're not even a CEO by now, you're this legendary entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur, an evangelist, a mind hacker, an optimized algorithm, a machine. Your show is on, everyone's looking and the audience claps at all your jokes and your witty replies about pressing issues like climate change, or your growing competition. You wave your hands after the talk, the curtain rolls, the clap fades, and you stand there alone in the dark, behind the scenes not as an evangelist, not as a CEO but as a human being, deprived of life. A broken machine, a high functioning wreck. The demand to live life as everyone else expects it from you is probably one of the harshest of all.

When Robin Williams committed suicide, people were shocked. How can someone like him, who makes everyone laugh around him, ever feel depressed, hopeless like there's no other choice? What makes people forget all the things that are worth living for in life? How do people end up in an endless spiral that goes so deep down the hole, that their thoughts are reduced to the final scene? Is it people failing themselves, or maybe is it us failing to see the people behind the stories, the successes, the laughter?

We don't see behind the idols of our times, the struggles they have, the responsibilities they take. We only see the rewards, fame, and the shining. The shining that makes us blind to the immense suffering of these high performing individuals. I don't know all the answers, but for me, a 100 hour a week schedule for years is simply a lie. Someone somewhere started it, and other people did not dare to stop living up to that false promise. People were made to feel smaller, inferior, were labeled lazy, unambitious, failures themselves, simply because someone told them this is the only way to make it, this is the only way to be successful.

The problem is the word "successful". We as a society defined this term horribly in the last 50 years or so. Success became money, parties, branded clothes, supermodels, supercars, yachts and anything one can only dream of. Many people during your journey will mock you with the question: "If you're so smart, how come that you're not rich?". This is a dangerous loop here because these things are never faithful, these things are only as much yours, as you're able to keep them yours. Because these things exist without you. There'll always come someone with more money, more parties, and more stuff.

I really don't want to define success here, but maybe Naval Ravikant's wisdom will do just fine for us as a society: "If you're so smart, how come that you're not happy?" Be smart people, and be happy! Now that the Holidays are coming, make sure you tell the people who are important to you, that they are important to you. Saying: "I love you, you're needed here." is the most overlooked phrase, we often forget to tell our loved ones. Don't forget it this time, or ever again.

Best, Matt and the Team of Cogito

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

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