Do Leaders Expect Too Much

Is it OK for leaders and business owners to expect their employees to work so hard that they jeopardize their personal relationships, their physical or psychological well-being?

Our youngest son Anthony has been living and working in Sweden now for the past five years, and one of the wonderful lessons he has taught me about the culture of Sweden is LAGOM.

His way of explaining it is “In all things, both work and personally, find the balance between not too much and not too little”.

A Challenge for Leaders

I’m wondering how the idea of Lagom (finding that balance or moderation in life) sits with you personally? If you’re a business leader, how does that sit with you? How does it sit with you as a message for your employees – to not work too hard, and not work too little … to find the balance?

When Anthony recently read my new book LIVING in the Light of Day, he commented that the first chapter ‘Avoiding the Success Trap’ was aligned with Lagom.

I asked him in what way, and he said this …

“Your opening line when you wrote ‘Spoiler alert! Not everyone can make it to the top … there’s just not enough room.’ would resonate strongly over here in Sweden. It’s not that people aren’t ambitious, it’s just that they’re very clear about pursuing success on their terms and not on the terms set by how others’ define success.”

A Search for Wisdom

One of the things I’m most proud of Anthony is his dedication to personal growth and the pursuit of wisdom. He turns 30 this year, and as I write this post, he and his Swedish partner Sara are only a couple of weeks away from becoming parents for the first time with a baby girl (Lizzie and my first grandchild).

In 2017, the year before he left for Sweden (which was for a 6 month contract with global visual communications company, AKQA … now 5 years later and a resident of Sweden), Anthony set himself a goal to read one personal growth book a week for 40 weeks of the year. The books were selected from the topics of leadership, psychology, creativity, problem solving and communication. As he completed each book, he posted to a blog that he set up and summarized his key learning.

He achieved his goal that year, and the change in his mindset, inner-strength, problem solving ability, perspective and so much more were amazing and so beyond his years.

How’s your search for wisdom and personal growth going?

So, when Anthony said how he felt Lagom was aligned with my chapter on Avoiding the Success Trap, I nodded with some pride.

On the back cover of the paperback version of the book I wrote this:

“On a global scale, the disruptive, competitive, and challenging way of life most of us are experiencing, has resulted in many adults rethinking what’s important to them … what really matters in their life.”

And then this:

“Are you tired of chasing other people’s expectations of who you should be, what you should own, how much you should earn, and what you need to do to be successful? If so, you might have been caught in a success trap.”

Caught in a Trap

In the great song ‘Suspicious Minds’ Elvis sang “I’m caught in a trap, I can’t get out …” At times through my own career, I have most certainly been caught in a success trap – pursuing success based on others’ expectations – resulting in some negative consequences, both personally and professionally.

When we’ve got caught in a success trap, Lizzie and I have found ways over the past thirty years in our own business to escape from them, and now, with more mindful clarity and intention, we can avoid them totally.

My questions to you are twofold:

The first is, as you reflect on your career, do you think you’ve ever been caught in the success trap of pursuing success based on others’ expectations and definition of what you should strive for to be successful?

And the second is, what about right now … do you think you might be caught in a bit of a success trap?

While I personally find ‘self-promotion’ a bit uncomfortable (always have), if any of this resonates with you, I’m confident you’ll find some answers and value from my book LIVING in the Light of Day: How to avoid the ‘Success Trap’, strive to be at your best and live a more meaningful, flourishing and prosperous life.

LIVING in the Light of Day | David PenglaseCLICK HERE to learn more as it is now available globally in ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook.

Or, if you’re in Australia, you can CLICK HERE to get the hardcover or paperback personally signed and posted to you and I will pick up the cost of mailing it to you.


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