The business blight of the 21st century – corporate burn-out and what to do about it.
A guest post from the very free-thinking Tony Barton: coach, speaker (to naked people; ask him not me) and writer.
It doesn’t make sense.
Bright people, like you and me, are working so hard we’re burning out, trying to keep up with an office that’s open all hours. It’s a hopeless task we can never win – or can we?
I’ve been fascinated by this subject of burn out for the past year because I see it wherever I go in my job as a leadership trainer and coach – and the smell of burning is overpowering, it’s time someone sounded the alarm.
What frustrates me is that everyone knows the answer to this problem – it’s called working smarter not harder. So how come the majority of people ignore this simple mantra? We’ve all read Covey’s ‘Seven Habits Of Highly Effective people’ haven’t we? And if you haven’t read that one you can always try any one of the other 251,000 self-help books listed on Amazon, any one of them would work if you actually did what they say.
And here’s another thing that makes me mad.
If any of you read ‘The 5 Regrets Of The Dying’ last year, you’ll recall that spending more time at work wasn’t one of them. What people actually regret at the end of their lives is missing out on the simple things in life, time spent with friends and family, having the courage to be yourself – and all that touchy feely stuff. When was the last eulogy you heard that remarked on the deceased’s incomparable ability to hit his KPI’s?
My point is it doesn’t make sense – we all know that the way we are allowing ourselves to work these days is simply not sustainable.
The real problem is that we love our work too much!
Work is a great drug; it provides us with so much of what we need in life…reward, challenge, sense of achievement, purpose, friends, fun and more besides – but as we know, at the end of the day, work is important but it’s not really what life is about – is it?
Maybe it is – it’s up to us to choose.
But if it’s not – what is the answer?
Well you could read one of those hundreds of books on working smarter – but we know that won’t make any difference, so what else can you do?
I suggest you start talking about it.
You know, start talking about just how crazy it is to be working 12 hour days on a regular basis, talk about how hard it is for you to turn off and get a decent night’s sleep, talk about how exhausted you are when you get home, so tired that you have no time or energy left for your loved ones, talk about your fear of not keeping up with the pace, talk about the fear of failing, talk about how little time you have these days for your hobbies or your friends.
Conversations change the world, one conversation at a time.
I call these courageous conversations, because that’s what they are and it’s about time we started to have them with the people that matter; your colleagues at work; your boss; your partner; your friends – and most importantly of all, isn’t it time you had a courageous conversation with yourself about how you plan to live your one wild and precious life?
Now there’s an interesting conversation starter.
Tony Barton is a first rate life and business coach who I have used myself with some great results. He is one of life’s great characters and God knows these days we don’t have enough of them.
Check out his Red Kite world to see his corporate offerings and slide over to his Burn-out site if you feel life should be more than long hours and stress (by the way his Red Kite e-newsletter is well worth a read too).