The re-definition of work-life balance for chefs

Blog Work Life Balance Elephant Tightrope Personal Development Executive Chef

Our work-life balance has never been more challenged than in today’s busy and ever-changing environment, with 24/7 digital connectivity and a high expectation of being available at all times. By all means, I am not interested in yet another hospitality work-life balance debate; I would much rather like to redefine the term ‘work-life balance’ and give you a different perspective. Working closely with executive chefs, I can confirm that many of us struggle to ‘switch off’ from work and be present in their social environment with family and friends. This often comes at a high cost to physical and mental health – from low job satisfaction to high divorce rates, from unhealthy eating habits to stress and anxiety, just to name a few.

Before you read on, please take a moment to think about what work-life balance means to you and the beliefs you have around this topic. – The term balance would suggest there be an even amount on both sides of the scale and I think we can all agree that the equal times of 8 hours of work and 8 hours of fun (plus 8 hours of sleep) are long gone, especially if you want to be a successful Executive chef and leader.



So, how about we change the terminology from work-life balance to ‘sustainable relationship between work (or kitchen), life and well-being’? This has a completely different feel about it; it creates choice based on our attitude, what we want and desire, as well as how and where we want to spend our precious time.

Do we know what we want?

“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” ~Heather Schuck


In order to achieve a sustainable relationship between work, life and well-being, it is important to understand what you value and how to create the life-style that gives you (and the people that matter to you) happiness, success and fulfilment in all aspects of life. Of course I appreciated that to succeed in today’s competitive market you must be a high performer. However, don’t mistake a high performer with a workaholic!

  • A high performer works smart in a healthy and sustainable environment and feels in control, happy and fulfilled
  • A workaholic works hard and long hours in an unhealthy and unsustainable environment and feels out of control, frustrated and over time burnt out without having a purpose or feeling good enough

So here are a few points that differentiate workaholics from high performers:

  • Put self always second ≠ Put self first to be able to give more
  • Micromanage ≠ Delegate effectively
  • Want to be perfectionist ≠ Apply 80/20 rule – Know when enough is enough
  • Waste energy on what’s not in their control ≠ Invest energy on what’s in their control
  • Complicate processes ≠ Simplify processes
  • Have limited or no boundaries and are people pleasers (Say YES too often) ≠ Clear boundaries and able to say NO
  • Face the same low quality problems ≠ Face new high quality problems
  • Sacrifice or not clear on own values ≠ Act according to values
  • Live to work ≠ Work to live
  • And many more

Making progress in our career or business is not solely measured by revenue and net profit. We need to live a life we love, without feeling guilty. Of course we need to learn from the past and plan for the future, but we also need to be present in the NOW, because ultimately this is all we ever have. And there are times, where you should swap cooking a fancy dinner for your guests with eating a fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant yourself. Work with people you like and live with people you love! Value yourself and your time, because you can never get it back. Choose wisely when you build your sustainable relationship between work, life and well-being!

[box style=”1″]Time for action

  • What lifestyle are you aiming for? What is lacking?
  • What are your values around family and friends, work, health, hobbies?
  • Do you actually have a hobby?
  • Which of the above points can you take on board to improve your leadership development?[/box][gap height=”10″]

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By Martin Probst

In a nutshell, Martin Probst is the Managing Director of LEADING CHEF ACADEMY. He is not interested in teaching you how to suck eggs and is convinced that you are a top banana if it comes to your cooking ability. His mission is to add to your existing kitchen experience a blend of innovative LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, EMPLOYEE MANAGEMENT & ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS skills, so you can taste the success you deserve for all the hard work you put into your career over the years. His vision is to connect modern chefs around the globe and take them to the next level with our online education & training solutions.

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