Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I love it when my readers suggest topics for The Intersection of Purpose and Now. I have a reader from the Radiological Society of North America to thank for suggesting the subject of "Burnout".
I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life right now. Are you? I have the life I want, and I want my clients to be able to say just that as well. But let's face it, anyone can face "burnout" at some point in a career.
What is burnout, generally? If every day is a "bad day"; if you are often or always tired; if tasks at work or home seem like a waste of time; if you find most of the tasks you perform daily to be boring or monotonous; if you feel like nothing you do is appreciated or makes a difference...you may be on a path of burnout.
What is burnout like for you, personally, right now as you go about your daily life in work or school? Before reading on, invest a few moments with pen and paper (or computer) answering this question,
"What does burnout look, sound and feel like for you right now?"
- the cessation of operation usually of a jet or rocket engine; also : the point at which burnout occurs
- exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration
I would suggest that burnout can have at least one more source. When I was a young driver, my friends and I would test a car's acceleration (and our manhood) by "burning out" our tires. (Rather comical now, considering I was driving an Olds Omega 4-cylinder.) Thing is, every time we burned rubber we reduced the tire tread quickly and, therefore, the traction and lifetime of the tire.
Temporary thrills, "highs" and mountaintop experiences are not sustainable. Rely on them too much in your work or life and they increase your need for external inspiration and decrease internal motivation. Burn too much "rubber" too frequently and you lose traction on your work, your emotions and more. Too many burns too many times and you reduce the lifetime of value you might otherwise give to that which you serve, whether it is your work, or family, or community, or self.
- When you are doing one thing (e.g. in a job) but would like to be doing something else -- this leads to burnout.
- Maybe you are really good at what you do but don't really enjoy it.
- What if you are passionate about what you are doing but aren't very good at it?
Develop healthy eating, exercising and sleeping habits. I know you've heard it, but are you doing it? Learn how to manage stress; take yoga, pottery, a Bible study or meditation class if you must. Schedule your priorities instead of prioritizing your schedule. Set boundaries, "let your yes be yes and your no be no." Put away the cell phones, laptops and tablets, the TVs...have a daily getaway from technology. Develop daily rituals that bring you moments of peace. Try something new, or something "old" with a beginner's mentality.
Find someone or a cause to serve. I started volunteering to speak at the local women's correctional center once a month more than ten years ago. This is perhaps my favorite thing to do. I love it (I think they love me, too.) and look forward to returning each month. Serve someone; you'll be amaze at the revival you experience.
This blog, The Intersection of Purpose and Now could be read as a primer on avoiding and overcoming burnout as well. May I seek to remain humble and still suggest that you read through the archive of this blog to help you address burnout and rediscover your passion? You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. Discover your vital few priorities. Understand the Myth of Balance. Know the difference between your Must Do and Should Do activities. Understand how "Overcommitted is an oxymoron." Rediscover your passion. Why not take a magic carpet ride? Learn how to fix your broken want-to.
I also address the subject of burnout head-on in my popular workshop Why This Work: Renewing Your Passion for Your Work and Life. (Contact me directly for more information or to schedule an event.) Look for a few nuggets from this workshop in coming days...
Need to talk? Check out my Performance Development Network or Lifting Arms Ministry home pages, find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Give me a call. Subscribe to and read this blog.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
There is a big qualitative difference between a "bucket list" and the Dream Inventory that I ask my clients to produce.
The Dream Inventory includes everything you want to do, want to have, want to become today and throughout your life. It involves family, friends, your "whole person", character and often legacy. The Dream Inventory most often leads one to a much deeper sense of Purpose, personal vision and service to others - adventure, too - while also sorting out the mundane priorities of everyday life.
A Dream Inventory may well include a bucket list, but can be so much more.
Image credit: louisdavilla / 123RF Stock Photo
Thursday, February 07, 2013
What are you trying to change?
Nearly everyone is looking to change something: business results, the quality of a relationship, physical health, job satisfaction, the color of your living room walls... I like to call these desired changes Performance, and a change in Performance requires a change in Perspective.
Any change must begin with a change in perspective. One must see things in a new way to recognize new possibilities for performance -- for necessary action. One will not perform in the new ways necessary to produce new results without new perspective.
A change in perspective requires a fresh look at the assumptions you make about yourself, your current circumstances, subject or object of focus, the actions you are taking, or your results. What results are you getting now? What are you doing to produce these results? What assumptions are you making that drive these actions?
Shift Perspective to Shift Performance
Specifically, what new results do you want? What new assumptions might you need to “try on”? How might these new assumptions drive new, necessary behaviors? What behaviors might be needed for you to get those new results?
Just as behaviors repeated often become Habits, our assumptions, over time, become Habits, too; we call these habitual assumptions Attitudes. It’s not easy to change a behavioral habit, so it’s no easier to change a habit of thought -- to change an attitude. It may even take a greater discipline and Practice to replace an old habit with a new one than it does to develop a habit in the first place.
Let’s face it: you are getting your current results because you are in the Habit of getting those results. Your Performance won’t change without Practicing new Habits, and new habits require a disciplined change in Perspective.
Chances are, you cannot do it alone.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Leadership starts with authentic self-expression that adds value through relationships.
This is one of my leadership core values. It helps me be more discerning about my relationships and my role in those relationships. Among other applications, I have taught it to my boys since they were young. Countless times I have reminded them (I'm guessing they would say a nauseating number of times) to be authentic and positive in their thoughts, words and actions, and to look for the same in others.
"You are either influencing others or they are influencing you, and each point of influence is either positive or negative; there is never a neutral influence. So you might as well learn to focus on being a positive influence or look for positive influences in all your relationships."
Never a neutral influence? Is this true? Does it matter if neutral influences exist or not if they serve no purpose? "Neutral influence" is an oxymoron, isn't it?
There are four distinct quadrants on my Influence Matrix below. Each quadrant represents a broad distinction of how expression and Influence affects Relationship. I am not so naive to assert that relationships are this distinctive, but it is helpful to think of your leadership influence being this distinctive.
Every relationship can move from quadrant to quadrant at any time; there are no "bright lines" of distinction separating the direction or amount of influence in a relationship. (I wish there were such clear distinctions; relationships in general would be so much more simple!) In fact, that's why this is an Influence matrix and not a Relationship matrix. The influence of a relationship may endure beyond the life of the relationship itself.
Obviously, a leader adds value in Quadrants I and II. That does not make Quadrant IV bad. Quadrant IV is paramount to growth; it is the quadrant of mentors, role models and coaching. Quadrant IV can be a positive growth area for any leader. The more receptive you are about Quadrant IV relationships, the more likely you are to grow as a leader. Further, if you do NOT feel that you have any relationships that require some work in Quadrant IV, you are likely not growing as a leader as you could.
Quadrant III relationships are problematic but should not be ignored. You have a choice to follow, to walk away, to stay the same (destructive) course, or to "reset" your assumptions and attitudes. The latter choice creates the potential to drive new behaviors on your part that, hopefully, will produce positive results for both of you. That is the work of a leader.
Be authentic in your expressions of leadership, which include all that you say and do. To be your most effective self, be intentional about your positive influence on others and receptive to their positive influence on you. Through your relationships you are either adding value in your marriage and family, at work, and in your community - or you are not. There is no neutral ground.