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Fight the Flames of Burnout

Leaders can’t be successful when they can’t stay awake

Successful leaders don’t burn out.

If they did, they would only successful for a short term and then immediately lose the ability to add value to whatever project they are engaged in. Burnout is a constant threat in the busy lives of today’s professionals, but efficient leaders understand the need to avoid it and find ways to bring harmony to their lives.

Burnout is the antithesis of growth in any professional setting.

The reason leaders find success is because they don’t burn out. They don’t burn out because they’re successful; it becomes a circular argument. Fundamentally, steering clear of burnout requires balance.

In today’s office environment there is all too often some sort of hero badge that we want to claim or give to others based on how hard they work. Staying at the office for 60 hours or 100 hours a week. Sleeping on the factory floor. Getting only 2 hours of sleep each night.

When I hear about certain leaders or CEOs who believe this lifestyle is the new normal, it scares me to death.

If we make the assumption that the CEO or primary leader of an organization is valuable to the enterprise’s continual success, they should want to make sure that that their primary asset is well maintained. Their primary asset in this case being their workforce.

People are not machinery, despite our best efforts to work as such. You don’t run a piece of machinery at full capacity, 24/7, 365 days a year and not expect it to break down. Machines require maintenance and patience too. There has got to be a balance in your life to run 100% but also get moments for maintenance. Leaders need to follow this themselves and seek to give their teams the same opportunities.

Now, there will be times and seasons where you’ve got to do the 100 hour week; I get that.

There should also, equally, be other times and seasons where you need to fall off the planet for a day or a week. Make time to wind down and actually enjoy some of the reasons why you’re working to begin with. It may be difficult to pull away, it might put you in a position where somebody else has a bit more on their plate, but those negatives will be far outweighed by the clarity and energy you will bring to the table upon your return.

It’s all about finding a balance, being well read and preserving your ability to produce. External factors can always affect your ability to manage this balance, but that’s how you prevent yourself from burning out.

Reevaluating your passions can help too.

Doing what you love can keep the fire burning.

There’s no point in feeling like what you’re engaged in is a horrible chore. You don’t want to have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning and say, “Oh, my goodness, I’ve got a meeting with so and so that’s just painful” or “I can’t stand him, or her or that.” You will lose your motivation and so will your team.

If you are not following your passion and you do not feel the heat of burnout, consider yourself lucky and keep up the good work. If you do feel tired, fed up, or unable to lead as well as you once did in a profession that is not your passion, it may be time to consider a change. This is not always an immediate or easy goal to achieve, but taking risks to get closer to your passions can save you from a burnt out oblivion.

Notwithstanding external issues, you’ll want to jump out of bed, get to work, and say, “Great! Here’s an obstacle, here’s a challenge. But I love what I do. I’m going to go forward.” Having a passion for what you do helps negate any degree of burnout.

The new challenge if you are passionate about your work, if it stirs your soul, is that you will not take some time out to recharge or become dangerously wrapped up in your responsibility. Should this be the case, you’ll recall the point I had made before. Take stock of your situation and correct your lifestyle to a more balanced one. Follow your passion and make sure you still have balance as you follow it.

Always have balance.

Aaron Webber is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Webber Investments LLC, as well as a Managing Partner at Madison Wall Agencies.

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Aaron Webber

Chairman and CEO, Webber Investments. Partner at Idea Booth/BGO.