Burnout to Leadership

Ep#34 When your best isn't good enough

May 27, 2022 Season 1 Episode 34
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#34 When your best isn't good enough
Show Notes Transcript
  • How we stop winning and think we're losing.
  • Falling into the trap of "I'm not enough".
  • What's really happening when we 'fail'.
  • Recovering to create massive success.

0:00:09.4 Dex Randall: Hi everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to
Leadership podcast, where I teach professional men to recover from burn out and get back to
passion and reward at work. Hello, my friends, this is Dex. Hope you're well today, I am wonderful
myself. And what I really wanna talk about today is when our best isn't good enough. And really it's
about how we have dreams of being great. And over the years, we got a bit lost. The dream just got
a little bit worn down and thread bare as reality intervened and just kept on intervening. For myself,
[chuckle] I used to have a bright future in front of me despite coming from a pretty ordinary
background.
0:01:16.8 DR: A legacy of poverty and war, and there never being enough, very moderate middle
class aspirations of having this kind of mediocre career, but just bringing home enough money to
feed and clothe. And living in a small but viciously tidy dwelling in the burbs twitching the curtains,
that was my background. But when I was 10, I broke the tradition, I decided to study Maths at
university. I got no idea how that vision came to me. No one in my family had ever been to uni. My
mom was a PE teacher, and my dad came up through apprenticeship to be an aircraft engineer. But
they never spoke to me about my future or my plans, none of that filtered down to me. So by return,
I didn't speak to him about my dream. Nonetheless, it held fast, I did study Pure Maths and
Computer Science at Sheffield Uni. Back in the day, this was on mainframe computers, the size of
factory floors, there was no PC back then.
0:02:16.2 DR: Anyway, I'm telling you this because back then I did have a dream and for many,
many years in my early career, from which I was groomed to expect nothing, I did have success
after success. It was great fun for me, I had a lot of exciting adventures and I explored all the things
that a software developer could do. And really, it felt like the land of opportunity came very easily
to me. But anyway, the years wore on and I rose in rank, I went through management, which oddly,
for someone much more comfortable working alone, I became very accomplished now. I never
really reckoned myself to be any kind of communicator, I had no experience with teams, but I was
intuitive and a natural connector, it turned out. And I basically molded underperforming
teams into
something special, so I could always find work. And then after a period I emigrated to Australia on
a skills Visa and I continued my winning streak. And about 10 more years in, probably, is where the
inkles began to run a bit thin, and things in my head started to pop and squeak a bit.
0:03:28.2 DR: So over the years, I kind of fought a lot of management battles, but instead of
fortifying me, they ground me down. I had to fire a bunch of people, and the office politics darkened
my experience somewhat. There were a bunch of old bulls in charge, and they started to seem a bit
grubby and heartless to me with their endless jockeying for position and power and money. And at
the same time, I started to doubt my usefulness and ability to deliver, despite the evidence that
others were very satisfied with my work. And I also could feel like I didn't really belong, and that's
when I think the light of my ambition started to flicker a bit, I got into self doubt. I still wanted to be
great and do great things, but with age came the understanding, first of all, that I wasn't that
exceptional, and then life events started hitting me; loss, injury, illness, reduced job opportunities.
And this creeping realization that the genuine person I am wasn't gonna create the life
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that I wanted. I couldn't fully look after the things that mattered, and I couldn't fully protect the
people that I cared about. Everything kind of went out of whack, and at that point I was no longer
the rising star.
0:04:52.1 DR: And really, if that's true, there's only one other option, right? Well, actually there's
two, there's also complacency, but my nature doesn't allow that, I'm way too driven. So for me,
that's where burnout began. And like most people, I fully blamed my job, the boss, and all the rest
of it. And right now I wanna say if you're blaming your circumstances at work for your stress and
misery, then I'm really gonna encourage you not to do that. It's not that I lack empathy, I've got
plenty of that. I'm genuinely sad if you're suffering, and that's why I do what I do. Rather, is that no
matter what your job is like, if you blame your job, you become helpless, you can't fix it, you've got
no power, and that's not a great position to be in. Because typically, we can't affect change in our
working conditions and in our colleagues, and blaming them isn't making our lives any better, in
fact is not making anything any better. Anyway. When I reached my maximum stress, the lens
through which I was looking at life was one of trying to keep what I had and avoid more loss, 'cause
things had kinda gone bad, and the stress I experienced became unproductive from this defensive
stance that precludes winning.
0:06:13.3 DR: I wasn't looking at winning, I was looking at not losing. And the chronic stress of
that started to really exhaust me, dragging on into hopelessness, helplessness, irritation, paranoia,
massive frustration and rage. 'Cause I still wanted to be good and to be honest, my performance as
judged by the world was still fine, but I knew, I knew inside me, I felt that I'd lost my edge, my
mojo. And whether your journey is to disillusionment, whatever happened in your job, life, family,
work, relationships that tore the dream out of you, if you're in burnout or chronic stress, you must
have, at some point realized that it simply wasn't going to work out for you, that your life wasn't
going to be as you imagined it. Even if you have a hugely successful career, a fat paycheck, a vast
network, seniority, achievement, respect, expertise in your field, a partner, family, expensive home,
property, flashy cars, money, luxury holidays, there's still something missing from you. Everything
you ever did, every career and personal triumph starts to taste like ashes in your mouth.
0:07:33.8 DR: Fulfillment and peace didn't arrive, you still want, and that wanting looks less and
less likely to be satisfied. So then you worry about being who your partner, family and profession
need you to be. Living up to all this expectation, now you begin to live in a world far, far away
from your precocious beginnings, if indeed you had any. You start seeing the small fails pile up into
this big silos of lost potential. So what will happen next? Well my friend, I think that's up to you.
But I will say this, the impotence you feel is an illusion. If your brain didn't speak to your failure,
you wouldn't be experiencing failure. Think about that for a minute.
0:08:27.7 DR: When I crashed out of my last job in abject despair, withdrawal and horror, and
subsequently had a massive heart attack, I was 55, and I thought the game was over for me. It
seemed an irredeemable, unmitigated disaster. But then my friends visited me in hospital, they
patted me and smiled, coming from another external world where the sun was still shining, where
possibility still existed. They still had inkles. I realized then that I wasn't dead, just slightly mangled
and I've been given a second chance, and I was pretty bullheaded,
but I really had to revive the
bloody inkles somehow, so I had to allow in a new possibility. And at that time, I was very
fortuitously introduced to...
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0:09:21.6 DR: At this time, I was fortuitously introduced coaching, which is based on cognitive
behavior therapy or CBT. I mean, not CBT as I'd previously known it, this was a kind of CBT that
allowed me to fix today's irritations today, and that really appealed to me. And instead of seeing
myself as completely washed out, I began to see myself as waylaid
and confused. I sorted out my
attitude to my work performance and human relationships with a kind of engineering mind,
basically looked under the hood and asked myself, "What's gone wrong? What are the actual signs
and symptoms of this? And how am I interpreting it in a way that's not helping?" Typically it's my
mind telling me it's a disaster, it's all my fault, and I can't fix it. So, ignoring all the extraneous data
from my inner critic and moving back to bare facts, what can be done to improve my situation? If I
stop thinking I failed, what's really happening? If I could do the next useful thing, what would that
be? The fundamental principle of this style of coaching is to get power back quickly by disarming
the doom thinking and restoring the idea of fresh possibility.
0:10:41.1 DR: Loosening up, if you like, a few brain cells to do something less routine, that might
actually help. So once I stopped thinking I was the problem, in other words, that failure was part of
me, like the growth rings in a tree, then the solution started to become available again. If I could
still be the fixing guy, then okay, fixing is what I do. And I also began to understand from coaching
that negative emotion is of itself exhausting, stress, anxiety, worry, frustration, anger, despair, and it
often prevented me being able to rest or sleep. And if I removed myself and others as objects of
blame and resentment, I could intentionally create better feelings that energise me, and I could do
that at will, who knew?
0:11:34.2 DR: Chronic exhaustion really begins with chronic negative emotion. If we believe we
can't prevail over our conditions, and particularly that we can't acquit our responsibilities to others
at work and at home, then we won't prevail over conditions, we'll give up. And then, a lack of hope
and the consequent feelings of despair, helplessness, disconnection, unworthiness,
irritation,
failure, are gonna deplete us of all our energy and goodness. So really, when the lights have gone
out inside us and we think we're failing as workers, partners, parents, friends, humans, if it's true
then, that really the only thing happening is we've hit a road block, assumed the worst, and decided
that we are to blame, the deficiency is inside us, we now embody failure, failure is now who we are,
well, then we will give up.
0:12:38.5 DR: My current view, of course, is that this is all baloney, it's not true. It's really just an
evil trick that our innercritic
plays on us after we've been so good, had so most success, had it so
good, and then we have high expectations of ourselves, and at that moment, life shows us we're not
invincible, even if just briefly. So my view is this, at that point, when we are "vincible" suddenly,
it's time to adjust our sails a bit, no more than that. We can find the peace that we want and a whole
new seem of success, and we can return to the good life of connection and enjoyment, if we just do
that, if we just adjust our sails.
0:13:25.9 DR: If we basically stop holding ourselves to inappropriate standards that aren't
supporting us and not giving us what we want, and we just instead simply accept what's being
handed to us, even though we're not seeing it as a gift yet, that's a bit of a stretch, but we will come
to do so in the future. So when you're done with old fixed thinking, coaching actually has a lot to
offer, including a lot more success at work than you've ever had before. I earn twice now of what I
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did at my best in my previous jobs. I enjoy it a lot more, it's a better fit for who I am, and I'm very
connected to the people that I work with. But you don't need to change your job to have any of that,
that's the trick. What you do... Need to do is change how you see yourself, and how you see the
good that's already inside you. And then you can start to enjoy whatever job you're in, your current
job or a new job, well, it doesn't really matter.
0:14:21.8 DR: One of my clients, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, has realized recently
his dream of 10 years, creating a center for veteran suicide prevention. And also he's getting
married next month. Which I think is fascinating, because his initial goal working with me was
keeping stress from interfering in relationships and work. He emailed me last month and he said,
"As I'm sitting here, our desk of despair suicide prevention workshop, in partnership with the VA, is
happening online. I really appreciate all that I learned working with you, as well as your confidence
and faith that I could make things like this happen. It's been a long road to getting this up and
running, but it's absolutely first rate. And I believe it'll be the start of a sea change in how we think
about keeping people from ever getting on a path that puts them at risk of suicide. Thank you. Great
opportunity to learn, and now the real work starts." I can't believe the change that that man has
affected in himself through coaching. But this is the style of result that people will achieve from
coaching. Generally speaking, something pretty extravagant.
0:15:34.6 DR: I got kind of another thing that came to mind this morning about this topic. And I
got a friend too who's around about 80 years old. And he has a lot of accidents, a lot of illness, and a
lot of incidents, shall we say. And that's, okay, commensurate with his age and the life that he lives.
But he's thin as a bean pole. He's got skin like paper. He could be mistaken for frail. He's got
medical attention appointments of various orders of magnitude, quite a lot of them quite severe,
several times a week. And really, he's famous for having a season ticket at the local hospital. Yet he
bodysurfs
in the ocean every day yearround.
He's actually a stronger performer in the surf than I
am. Because he just never told himself he couldn't do it. He never made it a problem. And he never
imagined that he wouldn't be able to do it regardless of the experience he's having in the world.
0:16:35.5 DR: Anyway, so everything I've said today about recovery, from chronic stress, anxiety,
burnout, and all of that, is available to you. And that's the news I got for you. When it seems like it
can't be fixed, it can be fixed with a simple stepbystep
solution that retrains
your brain to be less
mean to you, and less pessimistic about what's happening outside. And actually engages with the
solution for you, and finds the good inside of you, and let's it back out. Because your mojo is still
inside you right where you left it, I promise you. So thanks for listening today, I appreciate that. If
you're in chronic stress and burnout, you must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly
and sustainably, and get back to your best performance and enjoyment inside work and out.
[music]
0:17:25.3 DR: If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership
Program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging
you, and let's make a plan to fix it.