Strivers vs. Thrivers: Supreme Ideas for Work Life Balance

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Strivers vs. Thrivers: Thoughts on Work/Life Balance

On August 16, 2018 Elon Musk revealed the personal toll of his past year to the New York Times. The next day, Ariana Huffington tweeted Elon an open letter asking him to work smarter not harder, to take time to recharge his body and mind, to be better, more productive, and more careful regarding his physical, emotional, and mental health.

During the small hours of the next day, presumably after returning home from a long day of work, Musk replied: “You think this is an option. It is not.”

Strivers and Thrivers

There are two sides to the topic of work-life balance, strivers like Elon Musk and thrivers like Arianna Huffington, and camps have formed on both sides of the polarizing issue, sparking a conversation on the topic among many thought leaders in the industry.


Elon Musk is by no means alone in setting audacious goals, and being fanatically obsessed with achieving them. His situation demands high expectations, and building consumer faith in the breakneck speed that he employs to achieve the seemingly impossible. Strivers can achieve great things, and attribute that performance to their unshakable belief in the importance of hard work. Strivers talk about “hustle”, as in putting in the right kind of effort, and when it comes to success, “hustle” is just another part of the equation.


Arianna Huffington, and her new startup Thrive Global represent the thrivers. Thrivers prioritize health, wellness, and relationships above work. Thrivers like Robert Owen and Karl Marx deserve credit for winning the eight hour workday, and now a new generation is pushing back against the memetic voluntary 80 hour work week. Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, took a stand against “hustle” culture at the Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon, and he’s asking others to think twice:

Whitman's Idea

How much are we born this way, and how much do we learn along the way? Can we both understand ourselves and adopt the traits that best suit our circumstances – not blindly follow prevailing cultural norms or presume to know how others should live their lives? Can strivers and thrivers coexist? Can the two opposing worldviews be reconciled in the individual? Maybe that’s what Whitman meant, “If I contradict myself, very well then I contradict myself.” That was quite a supreme idea he had there.

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