Reigniting burnt matches


[vimeo id="119272002"] If you’ve been in the workplace for some time, then you’ve probably seen people who are burnt out or maybe even dealt with it yourself. It’s prevalent with students as well. Have you heard of “senioritis”? It’s the student’s version of burnout. What may surprise you is that you are most vulnerable to it immediately after you’ve had a major success. If you don’t believe me, turn to 1 Kings 18 and the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel. In the story, Elijah is very brave and experiences a great victory. However, in the very next chapter, his life is threatened, he doesn’t stand with confidence like he did before. He panics. He runs away. He was burnt out.

The Harvard Business Review wrote an article addressing this same problem. It gives some practical suggestions to avoid these post-success situations. Here a few of them along with some of my own thoughts.

First, recognize that your job will be more difficult. You might assume putting in lots of effort in the beginning of your job might make the rest of your work a lot easier. It’s not that simple. When you’ve exhausted yourself physically and emotionally from being continually in high-gear, small tasks can get larger, not smaller. What’s worse is that you begin to lose your ability to discern between “important” and “urgent.” When you find yourself in this season, it’s crucial at this juncture to find time to unburden your mind. It’s important to take time to celebrate past wins and take time to pause and reflect. This will empower you to strategize for the next project.

Second, restock your energy. Our body performs extremely well on a cycle of engage – retreat – recover – engage. Similar to what I mentioned above, a ragged mind produces ragged work. However, the retreat-recover cycle does not mean going home and turning the TV on and your brain off. Your recovery should also be something active. This means that you should hit the gym and exercise or go spend time with friends and family. These kinds of activities are essential in restoring your energy. In other words, get your mind on something different than your work.

Third, reach for your next goal. One of the most significant factors of burnout is the sense of “no purpose” that comes in the aftermath of major achievements. To counteract this sense, it is important to focus on continuing your own growth in either your skillset or just in exploring new ideas. An excellent method of doing this is through mentoring. As I mention in my book, 9 Disciplines of Enduring Leadership, the mentoring relationship is not a one-way flow, it’s definitely a two-way street. The relationship of a mentor and mentee ignites fresh ideas in both and helps fuel further growth. In fact as a mentor, I feel sometimes that I’m doing most of the learning.

So keep these ideas in mind as you work so that you can avoid burnouts. Keep your mind sharp and healthy as you move forward in your journey.

Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope these thoughts will encourage and help you maintain a healthy and growing career. Please comment and join in the conversation below and share some of your stories and ideas. Have a great day!