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Good Leaders are Fully Human – and Won’t Burn Out

It’s the committed and the strong that burnout, don’t let that be you.

What is burnout?

Burnout is when a previously highly effective, productive, healthy individual is rendered unable to function in ordinary day to day tasks. Often following a long period of stress. It’s main features are physical and psychological distress, depression, anxiety, feelings of failure and a long recovery journey.

The unique entrepreneurial character

Chances are you’re a bit different, and deep down you know it (and I’m not buttering you up). You’re used to what it takes to push yourself, pass through the normal human limits, and ‘get on with it’. That’s recognisable right? You haven’t got to now without extending yourself beyond your physical, emotional and psychological limits. That is right and proper in short episodes, but chronic, long term stress is NOT normal and has devastating health effects.

The stress-rest-stress rest necessity

Episodes of extra work and stress are necessary in business. However it’s vital that these are in short bursts, followed by a ‘resting phase’ before the next episode of ‘stress injection’ into your business is required. See it like interval training, short bursts of high intensity cardio followed by slow, resting pace. Like interval training the stress – rest – stress – rest pattern strengthens you and cultivates resilience. Full on stress – stress – stress will eventually weaken you, the opposite to what you need.

The top execs I work with already suffering burn out on average take 1 year to get back into the business, and 2 years to fully recover. Burnout is expensive in many ways.

The thing is, high achieving entrepreneurs are natural adapters, they feel the pressure, they respond to the problem, they get on with it. They adapt and can override their natural stress responses. That makes them great leaders, but this strength has to be coupled with good self care to sustain you before it’s too late.

PREVENTION of burnout is the key

Look out for signs of chronic stress:

  • Fleeting thoughts of hoping time will slow down
  • Wishing there were more hours in the day
  • Feeling like you can’t take another demand
  • Feeling like you could just take another turn in the morning and not end up at work
  • Feeling like your own entrepreneurship and passion is beginning to work against you
  • Anxiety; shortness of breath, struggling to take a deep breath, Depressive thought
  • Feelings of suffocation; seeing no way out
  • Imagining your demise, fearing that others will prosper if you slow down
  • Consistent difficulty with concentrating
  • Short term memory loss
  • Binge drinking and binge eating
  • Quick to anger, angry outbursts
  • Insomnia (early hour wakening)
  • Trembling for no apparent reason
  • Loss of appetite
  • Self harming; brutal thoughts

What You Can Do To Avoid Burnout

Listen to what your mind and body needs every single day even in times of business pressure.

Attend to your basic humanness of:

  • Family
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Rest
  • Play
  • Human connection
  • Quiet
  • Intimacy
  • Toilet breaks (I’m not kidding! Some entrepreneurs are irritated by time lost for bathroom breaks, sounds bananas but it’s true. A multi-millionaire client of mine told me they wished they could be catheterised to save time!!!)

Don’t let your inner superhero create your ruin.

3 effective ways to de-stress:

1. Be aware of your inner brutality which pushes you through your ‘limit barrier’ too often.
Notice your inner dialogue. Is it a dialogue of kindliness and support, or is it one of being berated. critical, or even cruel?

2. Become your own best friend. Transform your inner dialogue.

3. Notice your needs & attend to them.

With consistent practice of self awareness underpinned by kindness to self and self care you can stop burnout.
The most intelligent of minds often miss the basic need for things to sustain them, but those same intelligent minds can be employed in self care too.

Not surprisingly the consequence of this changed relationship with yourself gives you more energy, and your effectiveness, productivity and profit increase too!

Daily self care to avoid burnout:

  • Compassion for what you’re going through
  • Make time to lunch
  • Change your internal dialogue from cruelty to kindness, all inner brutality holds you back
  • Ask yourself ‘what do I want?’
  • Rest if you can’t sleep
  • Don’t ignore yourself, don’t ‘override’ the early signs
  • Choose a healthy antidote, walk, jog, gym, music
  • Get professional support, please don’t wait until it’s too late

Interested in learning more on this topic? Check out Anna’s new book: Smile Again: Your recovery from burnout, breakdown & overwhelming stress.

About the author Anna Pinkerton is a therapeutic coach, psychotherapist, trauma practitioner, author and has 25 years experience. She specialises in working with top execs and entrepreneurs to help them meet the rigours of their business without it breaking them down. She is also the founder of Kindness Incorporated which supports entrepreneurs, and businesses to prevent burnout & breakdown, speed up recovery for those already struck by overwhelming stress, transform all inner brutality to companionship in order to create true personal power, resilience, and joy in business and in life.

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