The best train ride I’ve ever taken was May 17, 2002, from Boston to Philadelphia. I know this because that’s the date I wrote on the inside cover of Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads: Tools and Techniques for Profitable Persuasion, by Roy H. Williams – the book that mesmerized me for the entire trip. Perusing the book again last night, I came across a note I wrote in the margin on page 136: “The best advice on work-life balance I’ve ever read.” I’d like to share with you a shortened version of this classic, two-page essay, entitled, Look Out The Other Window. The entirety of what follows is in Roy Williams’ words.
“How do you leave all the cares of the office at the office?” my good friend Akintunde asked. “I’ve never been able to do it.”
Pointing to the east, I said, “Look out that window and tell me what you see.” Akintunde looked intently out the window and described in detail what he saw there. “Now look out this window,” I said, pointing to the west, “and tell me what you see.” Akintunde spent the next several moments describing an entirely different scene. I said, “That’s how I do it.”
When he said he didn’t understand, I pointed to a bare wall and said, “Tell me what you see.”
Akintunde said, “I see nothing but a blank wall.”
“Keep looking,” I told him. After a minute of watching him stare silently at the wall, I asked, “Are you thinking about what you saw out the window?”
“Yes, I am,” he laughed. “How did you know?”
“Akintunde,” I said, “if you will pour yourself into something that will occupy your evenings and weekends as completely as your job occupies your nine to five, you’ll find that you will soon be feeling less tired, less frustrated, and less stressed out about what’s happening at the office. The reason you can’t quit thinking about the office is because you’re going home each night and staring at the wall.”
Like most people, our friend Akintunde had been confusing rest with idleness. Rest is not idleness. Rest is simply looking out a different window. If you have a job, or anything else that you struggle with and worry about, you have a window that looks to the east.
But do you have one that looks to the west?