Labels Make No Sense. An Example? Consider 'Workaholic Helicopter' Labels box us into perceptions and structured roles often associated with negativity. So, don't use 'em.

By Jim Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I've never liked labels; I hate them, actually. Labels box us into perceptions and structured roles often associated with negativity. And labels are a frequent occurrence. We've all fought labels our entire lives, in some way, shape or form. I've fought a few of my own.

Related: Is the Notion of a 'Good Work Ethic' Generationally Biased?

But one label in particular personally offends me. It's going to seem "light," versus others that are far more damaging, but it's a label that bothers me, nontheless: workaholic.

I hate that label because I don't believe there is such a thing and don't think this one applies to me.

Entrepreneurs aren't workaholics. We just work hard because we have to. We have a vision and mission that is larger than life, yet we generally lack the resources to match the amount of work in front of us. So, we work hard, all day and all night, sometimes. Weekends, too.

That's not being a workaholic; that's just rolling with the demands of being an entrepreneur.

We weave our work into our lives and around our lives, so it often looks like all we do is work. Quite the contrary, though: We just never give up on our work. No matter what the odds.

Related: Advice From a Recovering Workaholic: Make a Shift to 'Less Is More'

When there is parenting in the mix, it's even worse, because then the label takes on an even more negative tone. "Workaholic" means you somehow leave your children in your wake, with work as the first priority. But that's not accurate, because we never give up balancing it all.

Then there's the polar-opposite label that is just as bad: "helicopter parent," meaning a parent with nothing better to do than hover over his or her kids' every move, a parent who doesn't trust children enough to just let them be. Again, I'm not sure there is such a thing.

Who's to say what any given child really needs. Parenting is an individual decision and approach that should never be judged. One person's "helicopter" is another person's caring attention.

As I write this, I wonder if it's possible to be a "workaholic helicopter." Actually, I really don't want to know. I'd rather we drop all of the labels entirely and embrace the fact that we are all just trying to find a balance.

We should also just do our thing, no matter what that is. What I'd rather share is a philosophy about balancing work and family, without any of the labels: We should all just do our thing.

I recently released a new book called Out and About Dad, where I do just that . . . share my experience as a father trying to do my thing, balancing the demands of work and fatherhood from a time when society wasn't so caring about my situation. I believe that by sharing our own experiences, we can start to tear down the labels that can box us in and make us unhappy.

So, let's start by eliminating "workaholic" and "helicopter" from our vocabulary and judgment, and simply get on with the business of work, parenting and life.

Related: 7 Elements of a Strong Work Ethic

Wavy Line
Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

Editor's Pick

A Leader's Most Powerful Tool Is Executive Capital. Here's What It Is — and How to Earn It.
One Man's Casual Side Hustle Became an International Phenomenon — And It's on Track to See $15 Million in Revenue This Year
3 Reasons to Keep Posting on LinkedIn, Even If Nobody Is Engaging With You
Why a Strong Chief Financial Officer Is Crucial for Your Franchise — and What to Look for When Hiring One

Related Topics


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.

Starting a Business

5 Tips For Launching a Business While Keeping Your Day Job

Launching a business while holding down a 9-to-5 is no small feat. It's a common path for aspiring entrepreneurs, but it's not without its challenges.


Why Time Management Doesn't Work — And How My Team Doubled Their Productivity Once I Started Doing This Instead

Time management is killing your productivity – here's why and what you need to do to increase your productivity instead.

Starting a Business

Honey, We Have a…Company! — 6 Tips for Running a Business With Your Romantic Partner

The unique challenges (and gifts!) in running a business with your romantic partner