Does your to-do list feel like an ever-increasing weight . . . like every time you take one thing off the top, three things have been added to the bottom? Are you feeling “crispy”, like you are one more “should” away from burning out? If so, take a deep breath (no really, I mean it . . . in through your nose . . . out through your mouth) and consider this Parker Palmer quote from Let Your Live Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.
“Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess — the ultimate in giving too little!”
Read that again and think about it.
When you are focusing on projects that play to your strengths, that you are passionate about, the size of the task, the hours is takes, doesn’t run you down . . . each step in the journey energizes you! When you are maximizing your unique gifts and graces you can accomplish amazing things . . . and then wake up the next day ready to tackle the next challenge.
It is when you are trying to complete tasks that take time and energy away from the very things that made you successful in the first place that you feel depleted, like you are slogging through quicksand. For those of you thinking that is a nice but unrealistic notion . . . that you would love to focus on what you do best, but this is reality and that means tackling tasks that can be frustrating, mind-numbing and energy-draining, I would offer the following observations:
- That’s a cop-out.
If you are a leader, you are responsible for making sure things get done, not necessarily for doing them all yourself. And the very things that are mind-numbing for you may be totally energizing for someone else because the tasks align with theirgifts and graces. Find them and give them the opportunity. It’s a total win-win.
- You’re not looking at the big picture.
When you consider tasks in isolation, they can seem tedious and not a top priority. However, when you look at the role they play in helping you accomplish a bigger goal, suddenly they can feel less like a waste of time and more like a stepping stone. Perspective is everything so have a clear view of the end goal.
- You’re the leader. You can say no.
Just because it has always been part of the role, or someone expects you do to something, that doesn’t mean it is the best use of your time. If it drains you and doesn’t serve the larger goal of the organization, stop doing it. Instead, focus your energy on things that play to your strengths and serve the larger interests of the organization.
Worn out and feeling on the verge of burn-out? Maybe you’re giving too little.