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Using Downtime to Boost Uptime: Avoiding Burnout and Stress

The Side-Effect of the "Hustle Culture" That No One Wants to Talk About

This is part of Wesley’s 12 Steps to Leadership series. Each of these principals should be implemented, each week, to further develop impact and influence.

Description: In this blog, Wesley discusses the importance of REST for conscientious leaders. The dangers of deferring your rest are more severe than you might think, and the mystic and alluring dangers (and leadership quotes’ propaganda) that the “hustle” culture advocates have no intention of warning you about.

So called “Experts” will tell you they work around the clock and never tire of chasing their passion. The truth is, only a healthy balance will allow the good and faithful to experience transformational leadership and reach the finish line. 🙏

Too Exhausted to Rest? Here’s How to Avoid Burnout and Stress

Yes, absolutely. Physical exhaustion is a real issue facing many leaders today. Ask your peers about their workplaces. Ask the parents of young children. Ask the working class who provide care for aging parents.

As a general rule, sleeping seven hours a night should be a non-negotiable for 98% of humans. Not getting enough rest leads to seriously poor performance. #tldr #watchthevideo And even though we know better, we succumb to all the ubiquitous temptations. Traditionally TV… but now, I’d reckon a mobile device is more culpable.

In fact, many people are working so hard that they find themselves too tired to even enjoy the little time they allow themselves to relax. Personally, I’ve too often felt I needed a vacation from my vacations. (It could have something to do with how much I end up chasing the “Dam” boys around.) #dadlife

How many times have you finally made it to your couch at the end of a long day, only to see the first 5 minutes of your favorite program before falling fast asleep in some uncomfortable position and waking up a couple of hours later to drag yourself to bed? Although I’ve personally never had this happen to me, I’ve heard it happens to parents at staggering rates.

It is perplexing that the most efficient way to maintain our bodies does not require any exertion on our part - it’s actually the exact opposite. In consulting my Millennial leadership and management clients, I’ve learned that the notion of quieting oneself is counterintuitive to certain “driven” personality types.

Leadership Styles Lead To A Self-Inflicted Epidemic

Clearing your mind, and giving your thoughts a rest throughout the day offers a litany of benefits. And if you fail to give your brain a break, you are pointing the boat too high, and steering yourself right into burnout. Grab the tiller and fall off.

The downsides of burnout can pile-up quickly and overtaxing your faculties can result in behaviors that might include, but are not limited to being grumpy or irritable, acting like a jerk, being a tool 🙈, being annoying, and underperforming.

It’s bad for everyone else (your family and your coworkers, especially) when you’re tired, for the simple reason that your diminished capacity disallows you to perform. You are NOT your best and it’s not your best work.

Your body, as opposed to your brain, has strong physical indicators and warning systems that alert you to any serious problems. If you overwork your legs, you’ll get shin splints or aches. When you’ve got shin splints, it’s hard to run. This reinforces the necessity to rest.

How much rest is enough? Your brain likely needs even more than your body.

But instead of getting a little shut-eye, what we usually do next, and which almost always exacerbates the issue, is self-medicate with caffeine...or worse.

Burnout Can Strike Without Warning

Your brain and your mental capacity have no real physical pain indication system. This pain is typically not a direct indicator of exhaustion.

In terms of brain burnout warnings, there aren’t a whole lot of indicators besides sleepiness, drowsiness, lack of concentration and again…perhaps acting cranky.

Maybe you’ve heard that doing things like driving while drowsy is just as bad as driving under the influence, but evaluating that state from a professional “performance” perspective, it might actually be worse.

If you’ve been awake for more than 18 hours, you are operating at about the equivalent of what is considered legally intoxicated. But even worse, tests measuring the accuracy of judgment and coordination revealed that drowsy subjects performed significantly worse than those inebriated.  

You Wouldn’t Come to Work Drunk

The bottom line is--and you should mention this to your young and ambitious team-- that if you wouldn’t show up to work drunk (only drummers in rock bands get this perk), you should really consider how your effort will be undermined by a reduced mental and physical capacity.

Here are a few strategies (to share with your team) to help avoid this:

  • Schedule 1 minute breaks, on your calendar, during your work day...
    John Eldredge coined the 1-minute pause. If your employee just spent 15-30 seconds talking to you and you can’t remember, don’t care, or don’t have a good response to what they just said, you’re a good candidate for this. I dare you to stop reading this right now, close your eyes, and pause your mind. Respond or comment on this post if you made an attempt.
  • Change your environment: Remove electronics & screens from your bedtime routine, don’t charge your phone on your nightstand. How would you feel if I could offer you 20 minutes of extra sleep every morning?
  • Dare I say meditation. No scratch that…not ‘Merica” enough. Us Westerners just don’t really understand it’s value. It wasn’t our culture
    Learning how to slow and empty the noise from your mind, is an important skill. Since the beginning of January, I've been practicing guided meditations... I'm glad to make recommendations- email me.
  • Remove the Extraneous… if it’s not a heck "yes", then it’s a "no." Learning to say “No” is one of the serious leadership qualities that can take years to master, but also add years to your life. Burnout will work tirelessly to invade your life, don’t go inviting it in.

As a final word, this is all easy to talk about but much harder to execute...Good luck and get some rest.

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