Burnout by Rob Fitzpatrick
During the seasons of life, seemingly everyone has to deal with feeling burned out. That moment when you and those around you know what you need to do, but for some reason you cannot muster the strength to cross the next hurdle. For some, this may look like putting off a phone call even though it is a guaranteed sale that just needs to be finalized. For others, it may look like lying in bed in the morning dreading going to work at a job just months, weeks, even days ago brought you joy and fulfillment.
When it’s a problem…
Now these feelings are natural to many of us, and at certain times we are going to feel spent, I think of a teacher at the end of the school year, an accountant just before the end of tax season, and any number of examples that fit any profession. A problem arises when the feeling of being burned out, transforms into a more permanent case of Burnout. When long after the deadline, presentation, or missed promotion passes the resentment and bitterness still remain, there is a need to refocus and reenergize to move forward.
The origin of the term Burnout came from Dr. Herbert Freudenberger, who felt a similarity to the feelings he experienced as an overworked Psychologists and the images of the burned structures where houses used to stand. What were once strong structures built to perform well in many circumstances, now stood without use and as barely a reminder of what they once were. While a professional may do his or her best to cover the effects of burnout, underneath the surface they are just as ineffective as the metaphorical burnt out structure that Dr. Freudenberger described.
Efficiency vs. Effectiveness
In a more recent trend, there seems to be a disconnect between efficiency and effectiveness of the actions that individuals take. The first time that I was introduced to this was in comments from Rickson Gracie, a legendary Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete and forefather of what is now known as Mixed Martial Arts. In the context of martial arts, efficiency would measure how quickly you can perform a task or move, while effectiveness dictates the result. Being efficient in one particular move is nice, but at the end of the day, how well does it protect you from an opponent or help you to perform in a stressful situation? In many clients, I see a clear connection to this principle in everyday life. While people are becoming more efficient every day, how effective are we truly becoming in our work, our roles as friends, family and so on? The first misstep in counteracting Burnout generally focuses on becoming more efficient, focusing on one tiny step and doing it over and over again. Often an individual needs more than anything else to step back, remember the goals and desire to become more effective overall.
While Burnout is an all-encompassing group of symptoms, the fact is we can get through the problem on our own, but why wait to see how bad the effects become? There are a number of ways to prevent ourselves and our employees from dealing with the feelings of exhaustion, low motivation and ineffective work on an organizational level. On a personal level developing awareness and resilience toward these feelings will help not only with job performance and satisfaction, but also with overall satisfaction in life. I invite you to read the next blog post that will highlight ways to identify and counteract symptoms on Burnout and related conditions such as Compassion Fatigue, and also join me on November 13th when I will be speaking with the NonBoardBoard (http://nonboardboard.com/speakers/).
Rob Fitzpatrick is a Masters Level Counselor for The Refuge Center For Counseling in Franklin, TN.