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I am going to take a guess on your behalf – you probably are, but you do not realize it as yet
First things first : This article is not about the usual symptoms of burnout and how to recognize them. There is more than enough information available out there
I want to take you one level deeper to look at this issue….
But before I delve further, let me narrate you a coaching experience from last week
I was coaching a client, a C-suite leader in the tech industry, handling key global client accounts worth millions of dollars
A very dynamic personality, high performing and highly successful leader
He and his team have been delivering fantastic growth year-on-year
He is very passionate about his work and is always looking to add more value to his clients
One thing I noticed in our last few conversations – all he thinks and talks about is work
Work, work and more work
He never spoke about other aspects of his life
That was the first warning sign for me
And he never spoke about being exhausted or being stressed
And that was another warning sign for me – his constant need to always appear calm and in control
That is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to high performing leaders and burnout….
On the surface of it, everything appears to be normal
..You are doing well at work
..You are constantly delivering results
..You are able to spend time with family
..You go for walks and you meditate
All in all, no classical symptoms of a burnout
But DO NOT let that fool you in itself
..If the amount of work pressure and stress is either constant or gradually increasing day by day, but you believe that it is manageable
..If by the end of each day, you are totally exhausted and yet, you cannot stop thinking about work
..If you feel that you are barely able to stay afloat and you are taking one day at a time
..If the last thing you do before you go to sleep at night and the first thing you do when you get up in the morning is check your work email
..And if you are getting a nagging feeling that with each passing day, your internal energy is getting depleted and one fine day, you will have no energy left….
Then, you are probably much closer to a burnout than you actually think
That is the first challenge – lack of awareness
The second challenge with burnout is that even if you are fully aware what is happening in your mind and your body, you ignore it for far too long
You do not want to acknowledge it
The third challenge with burnout is that you assume that it is an integral part of corporate culture, hence you have accepted the situation as is
But that is so so wrong
Burnout cannot be part of the bargain
It is not what you signed up for, right ?
Because eventually, it will have a huge toll on your physical and mental wellbeing, and will impact all areas of your life - from your personal relationships to your performance at work
And that might already be happening….
The fourth challenge with burnout is that even if you are aware of it, you think that the situation is under control and you can manage it
You assume that it is only a temporary situation and things will improve with time
And we all know that is so not true
Life just gets more complex and busier with time
As you grow higher and higher in the corporate ladder, you may encounter high level of stress and work pressure
But the key is whether you are equipping yourself adequately to deal with it or not – else, it is a losing battle in the long run
So what do you really do about it ?
It is difficult to discuss a complete and holistic approach to dealing with burnout in one single email, but you can start with some basic things first….
Awareness and acceptance
Take a step back and pause
Look at the symptoms from your daily life - could be as simple as your constant need to check your phone for emails to a hint of irritation in your conversation with your family
Things which simply make you anxious, irritable and stressed
Start observing these signs and note them down
Just notice what is really happening in your mind and your body – they are telling you something
Take a pulse check on your energy levels a few times in a day
Use a scale of 1-10 and just note down how is your energy level : Physical Energy, Mental Energy and Emotional Energy
If you simply do these 2 steps for a week and then reflect, there are high chances a pattern will emerge
And that can give you a lot of clues about what is really happening and what you can do about it
So try it out and share your experience
I would be interested to know what came up for you
One final point....
The more you believe that you are NOT heading towards a burnout, the higher the chances that you actually ARE
You just do not realize it !