Brain Food: History Lessons - Balance your life - Pitt the younger

It's a common predicament for many ambitious corporate tyros (management consultants, take note): a prodigal talent climbs the greasy pole of ambition only to burn out by the age of 30.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It's a common predicament for many ambitious corporate tyros (management consultants, take note): a prodigal talent climbs the greasy pole of ambition only to burn out by the age of 30.

The parabolic career of British prime minister Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) should serve as a warning. The son of a prime minister himself, Pitt had a flying start, going up to Cambridge University at 14 and becoming PM only 10 years later. The personal price he paid was high, though, and Pitt died at just 46.

A life of all work and no play had endowed Pitt with manners described as 'cold and repellent'; he never married and, for a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was woeful at personal finance - at his death, he had debts of £40,000. His habit of drinking a bottle of port a day - as advised by his doctor, remarkably - was probably the main cause of his early demise.

The lesson to be gleaned from Pitt's life, apart from 'lay off the booze'? Work isn't everything. Taking time away from the office is essential for your mental and physical wellbeing.

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