Burnout to Leadership

Ep #3: What to do if you're in burnout

October 08, 2021 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 3
Burnout to Leadership
Ep #3: What to do if you're in burnout
Show Notes Transcript

What you will learn:

  • The structure of burnout.
  • Why you haven't fixed it yourself.
  • Burnout and neuroplasticity.
  • Why we don't seek help.
  • How to get help and quickly start to feel better.
  • Getting your mojo back.

Hi everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to Leadership podcast, where I teach professional men to recover from burnout, and get back to passion and reward at work. Hi, today let's talk about what you can do if you're in burnout. This is where to start if you're in burnout now, because one of the things we know about burnout is, you can be a real long time in burnout and maybe it's a little bit new for you, or maybe you've been in and out of burnout, or maybe it has been going on for a long time already, but basically it can be a real long term proposition, so I don't recommend you stay in it. And really when you're in burnout, what's happened is, you've had a self image crash. You've basically become very disappointed in yourself, in your performance, you've become exhausted. You're despairing of any way to fix it, and you've lost your mojo at work. It just... It doesn't feel like it used to feel at all, right. But of course, what we know about burnout is, you can't fix it through effort. Effort, efforting is the way you got into it in the first place. Having very high standards and pushing harder and harder and harder, and being a perfectionist and wanting flawless performance, is what got you into burnout in the first place. So efforting is not going to get you back out again. I don't recommend that. It's going to drive you deeper into the pit basically. So rather what we rely on to get us out of burnout is neuroplasticity, the ability of our brains to change direction at any time in our life. I mean, neuroplasticity works right up until the moment of death, right until your last puff, so don't think you're too old to change, you are definitely not. And neuroplasticity is the way that we will fix burnout. So what we'd rather do with our minds is we change the way we respond to the world, we manage the symptoms of burnout,

the individual symptoms. There's a real long list of those:

Stress, anxiety, frustration, irritation, anger, on and on it goes. We tackle each of them individually by acquiring new skills of responding to the world, when we have things that would previously have stimulated us to go into a kind of negative nose dive. So in the next video, not today, but in the next video, I'm going to start, next podcast episode, I'm going to start talking about symptoms, and we'll start with anxiety, so tune in for that one. But there is a step you need to take before that, and I warn you, you're not going like it. The first thing you need to do is stop trying to fix it yourself, because basically, how's that working so far? What you need to do is find someone who knows how to help you fix burnout quickly, easily, sustainably. Burnout feels like it can't be fixed, but actually, the fix is quite simple and teachable. You're a professional, you're going to pick it up easily. I can show you how to do that if you'd like. This is what I teach. To help people recover from burnout, reach their highest potential in and out of work, because make no mistake, if you're... How you are at work, if you're in burnout, is how you are everywhere, because how is your home life right now? It's not great, probably. You're probably finding people irritating and demanding. And when that happens, there's an element of self neglect and emotional shutdown in burnout that's, shall we say, not very helpful in relationships. You don't want people to see you failing, you feel awful, so you make yourself unavailable to them. You basically socially disengage and isolate or hide away. You don't let people really see and connect with you, and it's because when you see yourself as under performing, you're basically going into shame avoidance. It's isn't really possible for you in burnout to avoid the pain of feeling judged by others, but you're going to give it a red hot go anyway. When actually the person judging you so harshly is you, not them. They're only reacting to your behaviour. Anyhow, shall we just agree that things aren't going well with people, full stop? So when they come to me in burnout, I teach them new skills to replace old ones that are no longer serving them. And an example of that is perfectionism, because when we already have the skill of working at the highest standard, which people in burnout do, then perfectionism that always demands more just becomes a hindrance, a time waster, it's not adding anything. So let's rewire you to maintain professionalism and high standards, but with a lot less effort and strain and better results. Anyhow, so when my clients learn these skills, the various skills I can teach them, they tend to start feeling better at around the three to four week mark, and it keeps getting better and better from there on in. And so, let me tell you how I developed these skills. Here's what I did when I had burnout. I listened... Or after I had burnout and recovered actually a little bit. I listened to a lot of people. I researched all over the place, but I couldn't really find anything or anyone that I really thought could help me, and then I came across a coaching podcast, Brooke Castillo, in

fact. And the way she works is this. She says:

What's your specific problem today, let's find a way to fix that one problem, and then we'll apply the same solution to other similar problems you have. She began her coaching career working with weight loss, and then over drinking, because they were things she was working with in herself. But her principles rely on cognitive behaviour therapy, and CBT is based on the theory that the way individuals perceive a situation is much more closely connected to their reaction than the situation itself. So it's kind of interesting, huh? Anyhow, none of the stuffing around associated with many forms of therapy, she wasn't into that. She just wanted the problems fixed right now today, and her approach had my attention right there. So when I found her, let's say that my problem was, and I'm going to paraphrase here, "my boss won't let me complete the job he hired me to do," and I guess some of you have a similar problem, right? I was a CTO at a start up, and it was my job to get the product built and launched. And my boss, although he was actually a really decent guy, he had worries of his own. One of which was raising capital, and one of which, I deeply suspect. Was fear of failure. He had what I now call start upitis. He appeared to be very highly motivated to impress others with his plans and ideas, and less motivated to launch an actual product. And I guess looking back, what we don't launch, can't fail, can it? Anyhow, Brooke said, "It's not about your boss, Dex," which is weird, 'cause I quit my job during Tuesday morning meeting, when it suddenly became crystal clear to me, that no launch could or would ever happen. And I had never failed before, I had a lovely track record of turning out new product basically on demand, and so I had a real big dummy spit about that. I quit my job, I went home, and a couple of weeks later, I had a heart attack. And the heart attack is why I was sitting around on my sofa convalescing and listening to podcasts and researching and how to get out of burnout. So, if we go back to Brooke's teaching for a minute. She said, my boss and the job weren't the problem, because I couldn't control them anyway. She wanted to know how I was thinking about myself in the job. She questioned whether I was accurate in my assessment of what was really required of me, whether I was beating myself up about my performance. What it meant to me not to be able to launch; why, in fact, not launching was a problem for me. She taught me that if I was exhausted, stressed, anxious, overworked, frustrated, despairing and all that, it was more likely from the rules I made up for myself about how I should perform, and about needing to do everything perfectly, and please all of the people, all of the time. She said, "Hey, just tell yourself a different story about yourself, tell yourself you're fantastic at launching products," which of course I actually am. "Tell yourself you did a brilliant job at everything that was possible, tell yourself you tried your best to get it done. Notice all the good work, you did do, and your desire to fix the problem, because performance gains don't come from beating yourself up." And I think if you're listening to this now, I think you've already proved that to yourself by now. Turns out, our brains look in all the wrong places for evidence of our performance, they look at what's gone wrong, and ignore what's gone right. We take our talents, skills and experience for granted, and we notice only our shortcomings. You may know this as confirmation bias. Our brain wants to seek evidence that whatever we believe is true and ignore everything else. So if we think we're failing, our brains will prove it to us. It's kind of an ego trick, it's normal human behaviour, but unchecked it's a habit that snowballs over the years, until it torments us with every real or imaginary mistake we made, or possibly could make. Every dumb decision, every embarrassing fail, every person we mistreated or disappointed, every time we snarled at the family, every time we didn't deliver at work. In fact, I bet your brain is still telling you things you did wrong when you were 6, or 12, or 15. Ever wonder what good that does? Yeah, me too. So, if you're going to have confirmation bias, which by its nature is delusional, right? It's trying to prove something that we already believe, the antidote to that is reversing the polarity. It's deciding you're okay, possibly even good at your job, very valuable maybe, a keeper perhaps. So this is what I did, I looked at my job and I reclassified it. I looked for the skill, the wins, the creative ideas, the support, the will to succeed, the experience, the team work. I looked at every tiny bit of good I did or tried to do. And I realized I was the same A player that had had so much success in the past. I'd just taken a bit of a knock and lost faith. I'd racked up a few difficult life events, and I began to see then that losing my mojo at work might not be as terminal as I thought. I explored a whole new way of thinking, and I applied it to each problem as it arose. If you're in burnout, the thing I'd suggest you notice most, is how mean you're being to yourself. How much you worry about disappointing yourself and others, how dissatisfied and irritable all that makes you. How you separate yourself from others, lose your sense of belonging and become enveloped in a wretched loneliness that saps your life blood until you're utterly exhausted and hopeless, because how you do one thing is how you do everything. If you're in burnout, your life outside work won't be all cherries either. So the terrific news is this, you can develop a range of new skills to interpret your world and your part in it with fresh eyes. And you're going to be shocked how much difference that makes to you. It follows, if the way individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected with our reaction than the situation itself, that as Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher, says in his TED Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work, 90% of long term happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the world. And as I said, you know, in the last episode, and it's worth saying again, if you're in burnout you're not doing it wrong, but there is a better way that nobody's taught you yet, and the great news is, it's simple and reliable. I will teach you, it'll be easy for you as a high achiever. It's sustainable, and it's going to release all the potential in you that you thought had gone forever, and you'll get your mojo back. So, kinda don't waste time, don't waste your future in morbid frustration and despair. The world needs your good side back as much as you do. Think of your colleagues, your family, your partner, think of the people who matter to you in this world. Remember how much you've enjoyed your work, helping others, coming home at the end of the day satisfied, and the rewards of serving at your highest potential, so do you want to get back on form and support others? Well, I know you do, 'cause I know you've got a great heart and a great mind, and I know you're made of the right stuff. Your passion, drive, authentic leadership is still available, they're still... They're waiting for you. Your mojo is still back there, right where you left it. Let's go and get it. If you're in burnout, and you want to get out, if you want renewed passion at work and at home, come and talk to me, listen for the link at the end of the episode. And thanks so much for listening today, I appreciate that. You can visit my website at dexrandall.com for the show notes, and please subscribe and rate this podcast. Thank you. If you're in burnout and you're ready to get out, if you want renewed passion and success at work. Come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk to me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.