The best solutions to the world’s worst problems will flow from healthy, Christlike, kingdom-minded leaders who initiate transformation around them through the power of love.
But Christlike, kingdom-minded leaders are burning out. And as they do, the world’s problems go unaddressed on a meaningful, spiritual level.
Typically, we think of burnout as the result of overwork, but I don’t believe that’s the real problem. I know people who put in way more time than the expected minimum in professional realms about which they feel passion and energy.
Burnout is the result of unresolved pain.
And most of that pain is created in the gap that exists between a leader’s public presentation and their private, personal health. We try to act strong, which demands that we deal with the pain of pressure, criticism, and stress later. And later never comes.
When we collect enough wounds that go untreated, our mind finds ways to check out and disconnect as a survival mechanism. It’s our subconscious way of putting padding between ourselves and the source of pain.
I believe this is one issue that is critical right now. We must address it head-on and start helping leaders. And because leaders are leaders, burnout usually has to be self-diagnosed because we tend to keep our wounds covered to obscure the weakness from everyone else.
I’ve been creating a one-on-one coaching resource for leaders who are experiencing burnout, and one of the tools I put together to help a leader with the process of self-diagnosis is a free 20 Statement Burnout Assessment.
All 20 statements flow directly out of my own history. I’ve said or thought them all as I trudged through the valley of burnout. The scores are weighted, and I tell leaders:
- If your score is higher than 20, you’re feeling some pretty heavy stuff.
- If your score is higher than 40, you know what it means to be weary and exhausted.
- If your score is higher than 60, you’ve probably thought about giving up and throwing in the towel and finding something else to do with your life.
- And if your score is higher than 80, you’re in a full-blown burnout crisis.
Those 20 statements are just expansions of what I consider 20 signs of leadership burnout. They are:
- A decreased sense of self-confidence and self-assurance.
- Avoiding questions and conversations about life.
- Physical exhaustion, but often accompanied by insomnia.
- A knee-jerk fearful reaction to notifications of calls, texts, and emails.
- Excessively avoiding, postponing, and ditching meetings.
- Numbing out with alcohol or drugs, social media doom-scrolling, or video games.
- An increasing skepticism about the success stories of others.
- Giving less time and energy to meaningful leadership tasks.
- A sense that the whole world is getting darker.
- A growing inability to trust people in relationships.
- The nagging feeling of “imposter syndrome.”
- Prayerlessness – avoiding any real conversation with God.
- A decrease in self-care in terms of rest, exercise, and eating well.
- The feeling that fresh leadership insights just add more pressure.
- Feeling underappreciated and unseen.
- Daydreaming about escaping one career for another.
- Experiencing disproportionate anger about issues.
- No longer feeling “at home” in one’s leadership environment.
- Decreasing hopefulness about the future.
- Feeling that one’s leadership doesn’t matter.
Together, these feelings paint a picture of a leader who may find it difficult to self-motivate. And when we can’t self-motivate, we usually self-medicate. We escape. We reduce the output of our leadership energy to the bare minimum and start avoiding relationships.
And relationships will always be the heart of authentic leadership.
If you’re a leader walking into or through a season of burnout, you must address the pain and tend to the wounds, and you will almost always need help doing so. It’s hard to be, as the late Henri Nouwen termed it, a wounded healer.
It’s very rare to find the right person to help within the organization one leads. While we may have the rare gift of a caring mentor, it’s sometimes helpful to seek the advice and guidance of a counselor, therapist, or leadership coach who is equipped to address the big pain points in a non-judgmental way.
I want to invite you to take the free burnout assessment and start a conversation. That’s where breakthroughs begin.
Photo by Agustín Ljósmyndun on Unsplash.