Burnout: Too much or too little? Or, is it something much deeper?

  • Fact: The cause of burnout has been researched from countless social science perspectives, and the resulting data is a thicket of overlapping and sometimes contradictory explanations, most often focusing on such things as too many hours worked, trying to juggle too many demands, getting too little sleep, or having too few supportive resources. The research underlying Resilient Leadership, on the other hand, focuses on a framework that is qualitative rather than quantitative. RL identifies an internal dynamic—high levels of chronic anxiety—as the driver of overfunctioning/burnout, not “too much” or “too little” of any external factors.
  • Action: Identify one situation or relationship where you recognize you often anxiously overfunction. Try to dig deeper and identify the anxiety-laden assumptions, the narrative, underneath your behavior. Try to be as objective and factual as you can, and test the extent to which your anxious fears are realistic, and how you might be overstating the risks you face should you stop overfunctioning. Then take a test drive. Face your anxious fears, take a few “new and risky” first steps. See what happens. Try again. And Again.