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Why Jeff Bezos doesn't like the idea of work-life balance

CNBC logo CNBC 2018-08-10 Sarah Berger

It seems everyone is seeking work-life balance these days, and many leaders have preached its importance.

But not Jeff Bezos. The Amazon CEO and the world's richest person lives by a different concept. In fact, he called the term "work-life balance" "debilitating" in an April interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfner.

So what's Bezos' take?

"I think work-life harmony is a good framework," Bezos told Thrive Global. "I prefer the word 'harmony' to the word 'balance' because balance tends to imply a strict tradeoff.

"In fact, if I'm happy at work, I'm better at home — a better husband and better father. And if I'm happy at home, I come into work more energized — a better employee and a better colleague," he told the site in 2016.

Bezos isn't alone in eschewing the phrase.

Related video: Stop complaining about work-life balance

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"I think the way work-life balance gets talked about is frequently inaccurate," David Ballard, director of the American Psychological Association's Center for Organizational Excellence told CNN Money. "The 'balance' part of it is implying you're equally dividing time and energy, which isn't necessarily the case."

So work-life "harmony" is a concept Bezos tries to teach his young employees as well as senior executives at Amazon. "It actually is a circle; it's not a balance. And I think that is worth everybody paying attention to it," Bezos told Springer.

If not, it can affect everyone around you. "You never want to be that guy — and we all have a coworker who's that person — who as soon as they come into a meeting they drain all the energy out of the room. You can just feel the energy go whoosh! You don't want to be that guy. You want to come into the office and give everyone a kick in their step," he said.

Despite all the work that comes along with running his e-commerce behemoth, Bezos also prioritizes his well-being. For example, he tries hard to squeeze in the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, telling Thrive Global that it's the amount he needs to feel energized and excited.

"If you shortchange your sleep, you might get a couple of extra 'productive' hours, but that productivity might be an illusion," Bezos explained to Thrive in 2016. "When you're talking about decisions and interactions, quality is usually more important than quantity."

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