In today’s challenging environment where there is always someone looking to take your spot on the team or happy to take over your roll in the office burnout is becoming more and more common. Athletes with minor injuries that take too long to heal; they go to rehab instead of practice. Mangers who call in sick for a “mental health day”. Athletes and business people alike quit because they just have no more to give. Those solutions fall right in line with the commonly suggested answer to take a break or make a change in your routine to deal with burnout. In my observation burnout is caused by something deeper than boredom or overwork.
Burnout is caused by being held accountable for things outside of your control. Let’s break it down. Being held accountable means someone believes you are responsible for outcome. That someone could be you, your boss, your coach, your spouse, your parents, your friends, anyone. In addition, control or the lack of it could be more perception than reality. In the business world there is a saying, “responsibility without authority” and that is what I am talking about leading to a serious case of burnout.
I have found it helpful to have clients dealing with burnout do an assessment of their responsibilities; work, home, community, church, anywhere they have someone expecting things of them. Then I start asking questions: Who has this expectation of you; you or someone else? It is a reasonable expectation? Do you have to do it or could it be delegated or declined? Finally, do you have the authority to be successful? There are ALWAYS responsibilities that can and should be shifted to someone else, a few that don’t actually need to be done at all and several where the accountability and the control don’t match. One or the other has to change, more control or less accountability. Those are the places to start having the tough conversations if you want to be successful.
The bottom line: The only thing you can be held accountable for is giving 100%, doing your best, every time. What that looks like compared to someone else is not within your control. If you give 75% but your competitor has a bad day and you perform better than they do, is that success? If you give everything you have and they are superior, is that failure? If your answer to either or both of those questions is yes you can bet you are headed for burnout. You can only control you; not you compared to anyone.
Have you experienced burnout? How did you overcome it? What do you think about burnout being caused by accountability without control?
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Last week was a popular topic about avoiding rework. Read it here if you missed it!