Burnout lifesaver [Wise Wednesdays]
There’s one reason for burnout: our models of human activity are off. We're taught that more, better, faster – and constant growth - is best. Hello Success Trap. But that’s a linear, industrial, messed up model. It has nothing to do with nature or reality. Growth is not meant to be endless. It is cyclical. Everything dynamic in the universe has a pattern of being ‘born, growing, evolving, declining and dying’ before the cycle starts again. Humans do it. Plants do it. Stars do it. And so do organisations, projects and civilisations. It’s the principle of impermanence aka the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Endless growth is not normal. In medicine, we have a name for it: cancer. And even cancer has its limits. But how much activity is enough? How do you know when to stop and when to push? And what about procrastination and laziness? No one wants to fall into those and waste their potential, right?… These questions come up regularly in leadership and career coaching. The doctors, leaders and professionals I coach tend to love their work and have a deep sense of purpose. But they can find that the demands are endless to the point of sacrificing their own health and relationships to help others. For every problem they cut off, two more rear their heads, like a demented hydra…And with the times we face globally, problems are likely to intensify and multiply. So we need to shift our narrative around growth and work patterns to match up to reality. In any case, I thought it might be fun to engage with these important questions using a visual aid…It was inspired by Kate Raworth’s doughnut diagram which I came across while preparing for an annual panel on Climate Change and Health at UCL. I recommend her book Doughnut Economics if you’re interested in sustainability. In the meantime… I give you the Burnout Lifesaver!
The sweet spot of activity is between stagnation and burnout - in the fulfilment zone (on the lifesaver ring).
To be there, you must take enough action to activate your energy and inspiration; but not be so busy that you’re exceeding your capacity limits and unable to replenish your energy and inspiration on a daily basis.
But how do you know my potential and my limits, you ask?
Well, that’s simple enough. Know yourself and/or work with a coach to help you.
Know your zone of genius
Know your needs and limitations (perceived and real)
Know your energy amplifiers and drains
Understand your environment and how it supplies and uses your energy
Know who you really are beyond your narrative, emotions and physical experiences…
Simply taking time to think about these questions will transform your life. It doesn’t have to be a lot. We take 2 hours every 2 weeks to do this at The Sanctuary.
For now, use this to support your burnout prevention plan. With the times ahead of us, we all need one.
You’ll be ahead of the game and prepared.
Have a great week,
p.s. Got a hot topic you’d like me to talk about? Send me a DM or comment below.