One of the most significant challenges facing all leaders is finding balance regardless of the industry or field. The business organization has the appropriate personnel, a vision, and plans. However, the “person at the top” is endeavoring the burden of stress that no other manager or employee can comprehend. At some point, the “person at the top” reaches burnout. Even though their commitment level is high, their level of productivity and motivation weans. Consequently, the leader hinders the organization’s success.
Many leaders find it challenging to reach balance. Because of the pressures of leadership, leaders have always had a hard time being ‘off.’ After all, there are always more priorities to complete. The leader used to work; now, thanks to technology, work goes to you…and never leaves you.
One cannot achieve balance by intermittent vacations throughout the year. Burnout is the accumulation of significant stress over an extended time. Small business owners, presidents of companies, CEO of corporations, and even pastors of churches experience this dilemma. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues for an extended period, the leader begins to lose the interest and motivation that led them to take on a specific role in the first place. Burnout reduces productivity and saps one’s energy. Burnout could leave the leader feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, the leader feels they have nothing more to give. The adverse effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life.
Most people—by definition— are not in positions of leadership. Therefore, by definition, the leader takes on challenges unique to their role. Most people cannot help you because they have not led what you are teaching. All of this helps explain why you grow frustrated and discouraged talking to other people trying to get some insight into the problems you are trying to solve. Think about it. It is not their fault at all—it is hard to give meaningful advice to someone when you have had no experience doing what they are doing.
There are six methods that I have found to minimize burnout and find balance in my own life. There is an endless list of approaches, but I have found these most useful.
BUILD A COMMUNITY
The people who can help you are a community you need to build for yourself. It is weird to feel lonely because, after all, people surround you all day. Surrounded by people all day should make one feel like they are in a community. Unfortunately, it is not entirely the kind of community you need. Leaders must seek out people who replenish them.
Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something significant to you? This can be an opportunity to rediscover what makes you happy and slow down and give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.
Do not overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests, Learn to delegate. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that communicating “no” allows you to say “yes” to the commitments you want to make.
TAKE A DAILY BREAK FROM TECHNOLGY
Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking your email.
NOURISH YOUR CREATIVE SIDE
Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work or whatever is causing your stress.
SET ASIDE TIME TO RELAX
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation reaction, a state of restfulness opposite the stress reaction. Sometimes, taking a brisk walk at the end of the day gives one a different perspective and puts the mind in a state of relaxation.
Leadership balance or burnout is a choice. Make the right choice for the good of your family, your career, your business, and those you lead.
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John C. Parks
President, John C. Parks, LLC.