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Beware of Burnout

#beatburnout #grit #keynotespeaker #persistence #wellbeing Jan 30, 2024

I have been working with two different clients recently on helping them navigate their way through burnout. The ironic thing is they didn’t come to me to address burnout; they came to me because they thought they had lost a step from their usual high-performance mindset and were searching for tips to help them regain the bounce in their step, their confidence and passion for their job.

In the fast-paced world of today’s leadership, where demands are high and expectations are relentless, burnout has become an increasingly prevalent issue. The toll that long hours and intense pressure can take on both physical and mental well-being is often underestimated. Recognizing the signs of burnout is crucial for leaders to maintain peak performance. If you are wondering, ‘Am I experiencing burnout?’  here are a couple of physical and mental signs to pay attention to:

Are you constantly tired, no matter how much sleep you get or not able to sleep through the night because of insomnia? Have you been constantly sick or unable to shake that nagging cold? Are you noticing a recent increase in headaches or issues with your digestive system? These physical symptoms are often the body's way of signaling that it is under excessive strain.
 Perhaps burnout is showing up for you on the mental side of the ledger. Have you been lacking the joy and energy to tackle your work? It’s a sure sign of emotional exhaustion. Maybe you’ve noticed a loss of patience, a sense of detachment or increased irritability? These are also tell-tale signs that you are worn thin and need to address your burnout.

My clients were surprised when I suggested they might be experiencing burnout, and my advice was opposite to what they initially thought they needed.

Slow Down

As a high-performance leader, you must look after yourself first. This isn’t about being selfish. There must be a realization that when you are not taking care of yourself, you are not be able to take care of others. Taking care of yourself might look like regular exercise, eating healthier, Friday afternoons off, no working after 6 pm, or taking time to pursue a hobby. It all boils down to one simple mantra:  Prioritize your self-care. 

You have heard me speak about this next statement time and time again:  Nobody does anything great alone. Leaders must learn the skill of delegating to their team. This involves trust and letting go. It might mean that it will not always be done your way, but you must be willing to extend grace to others as they learn.   

Letting go of a ‘more is better’ mentality was a tough skill for me to learn. I grew up as an athlete, and it had been literally drilled into me--one more lap, one more shot. I always wanted to out-work the next person. While I still adhere to a strong work ethic, I now apply it in phases. Now, I work hard at times when the crunch is on, and I rest well when there are lulls in the year. Find your work life balance over the course of a calendar or fiscal year. I want folks to take their vacation in chunks. Two weeks off, for me, makes a real difference in my restoration. The first week off, I am still attached to the office and the hectic pace of work. The second week, I can really feel myself unwind. A great sign that my break was long enough is when I come back, and I can’t remember all of my passwords.

I encourage you to learn to shut off your computers after hours and leave the work for the next day. Leave space to invest that time in your families or pursuing hobbies. Feeling progress, achievement, attachment and meaning outside of your job can help prevent burnout. When you feel valued and contributing in other places, it lessens the impact on your confidence when things aren’t going so well at work. Remember, your health and well-being are the most important assets you have. 

Burnout comes for all of us.

Know the signs. Recognize and treat it like any other overuse injury. Adhere to rest from the activity or project that caused you the harm. Recovery comes from attending to your physical and mental needs that have been neglected. Don’t just take a break to feel rested and then jump right back into the hectic pace of work. Take the time to connect with your mentor or enrol in some further training to help you identify and adopt better habits. This way you don’t end up right back in the same place a year from now. With an intentional recovery plan, you can restore to your usual high performing self. 

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