NATURE: Connecting with nature is a well researched antidote to stress and burnout. Trees and water can be especially soothing. The Japanese even have the tradition of forest bathing, a practice of actively attending to sights, sounds and smells whilst walking in the forest. Spending a few hours outdoors every so often really helps our brains switch into relax and repair mode. Interestingly, if the real thing isn’t to hand, studies have found that even looking at photos or videos of nature can have a calming effect.
Millions of Americans are returning back to work after being home during the pandemic. While this has been exciting for many, some are feeling burned out by their work. What do you do if you are feeling burned out by your work? How do you reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back”? What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
In this interview series called “Beating Burnout: 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout,” we are talking to successful business leaders, HR leaders and mental health leaders who can share insights from their experience about how we can “Beat Burnout.”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacky Francis Walker.
Jacky is a UKCP registered psychotherapist, coach, writer and trainer who has 25 years experience of helping successful senior professionals and driven entrepreneurs around the world with burnout. Distilling her extensive knowledge in psychotherapy, mindfulness and burnout together with her strong business background, she is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges of a demanding workplace or being at the helm of an enterprise.
Jacky is the founder of The Harley Consultancy, a Harley Street based psychotherapy and coaching consultancy, and has developed a ground-breaking online program called ‘Banish Burnout’ which provides a unique framework for making great decisions that will banish burnout, reboot resilience, and future-proof your life in the fastest possible time. Learn more at http://www.banish-burnout.comhttps://content.thriveglobal.com/media/ec1101930d7c97d994ceffd662459f41
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
As a child, I was naturally creative, inventing a ‘boredom box’, a shoebox into which I placed suggestions of activities for just such moments, such as climbing a tree or bouncing enthusiastically on my bed, which always perked up my mood, even if not the mattress springs. My rule was that I could reject the first two if they didn’t appeal, but I must then carry out the third. I realise now this was an early resilience strategy.
When it came time for a career, I joined a large UK-based computer company. The fast-moving environment suited me, and I honed my skills and confidence across several departments before being headhunted a decade later by an American competitor. The difference in company culture was striking, moving from a structured, process-driven environment to a more fluid, individual-driven workplace. This gave me an insight into organizational cultures, how the stage a business has reached in its life cycle works in practice, the role of influence and internal politics, strategic thinking, team management, and more. I also survived frequent immersions into the domains of stress and burnout, which means I know from personal experience how it affects busy professionals from the inside too.
In the last 25 years, I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as a psychotherapist, burnout expert and coach, in which I can draw on my business background to understand the world my clients move in, as well as bring my specialist skills to help them navigate the next part of their personal and professional story. It’s often said that you find yourself teaching the very thing that you need to hear, and my curiosity to explore new avenues has taken me close to the edges of burnout. And, at times, into it. But that’s been enormously helpful as I know now how easy it is to delude oneself that burnout won’t happen to you (actually, everyone has their burnout point). I now understand from the inside the attitudes, assumptions and habits that spell trouble and have personally road tested a considerable number of ‘get out of burnout’ strategies.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I’d long been on the sharp end of stress during my career in the computing industry — as a fast-paced industry, repeatedly rising to the challenge amidst short deadlines were the norm and the adrenaline rush was compelling. Like many, I regularly dipped into burnout, especially during quarter and year end rushes when late nights and early starts piled up. I didn’t have the knowledge I now have on what to do about this, apart from collapse at the end of a hectic period and have a well-earned celebration with the rest of the team.
After nearly twenty years in a global business environment, from being highly motivated in my administrative, finance and pan-European project roles, I realized the work was no longer fulfilling to me, and material goals no longer satisfied. It dawned on me that what I was doing was not of any intrinsic human value. I was experiencing a mid-life crisis. It prompted me to take an introductory counselling course, for personal interest as well as to expand my skills, and I learned I had a natural affinity for it. I had found my true ‘home’. Shortly after this I got to know an energy healer who opened my eyes to the spiritual side of life too.
Stress consultancy therefore seemed a natural arena for me to focus on when I left to go freelance, and in the ten years that followed I completed an intensive set of trainings including an MA in Counselling, an Msc in Psychotherapy, plus courses in mindfulness, focusing (a kind of mindfulness-based psychotherapy), NLP, coaching and groupwork. My career as a psychotherapist led me to head up the counselling training team for an Adult Education authority and develop accredited diploma level trainings in counselling. I also taught meditation (I was known as ‘the meditation lady’ in my village). All of which have combined into an excellent foundation for developing my ground breaking online program ‘Banish Burnout’.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I thought a lot about how to answer this question. There have been many people who inspired me along the way, or who helped me gain insight on what was truly important in life, such as the energy healer who put me in touch with my more intuitive side, the bosses who gave me a great insight into how business works, especially at senior levels, and entrusted me with key projects, the counselling tutor I met who nudged me to train as a counsellor, and the amazing connection I had with Jutta, my therapist, as we explored my deeper quirks and foibles over a magical five years whilst I undertook my psychotherapy training. Looking back now, I can see how each of these fortuitous encounters have been woven into how I now approach life.
But, actually, this story starts earlier still, as I realized my trajectory was already underway when I encountered all of these significant people. They shaped my direction, to a greater or lesser extent, but the drive was already in me. It struck me that my most significant influence was my mother and the example she had provided of being a capable professional (pursuing a successful career as a teacher) as well as a competent mother. Throughout her life (and continuing still into the latter part of her eighties), she has been a chemistry department head, president of her teaching union’s district branch, UK representative in Europe on women’s’ pensions, a town councilor, chair of numerous committees, as well as keeping up with musical, artistic, architectural, sporting and historical interests… and playing a key role in the local community, too. Her example has taught me that women can naturally be leaders by following their interests and strengths instead of hesitating or wondering if they are good enough, and that a rich home and personal life can be part of the mix too.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Actually, it was meeting my husband, the artist, writer and environmental activist Geoff Francis. He made his entrance one evening with the thought of joining the arts-focused social group I had founded. I could immediately see he was quite a handful and likely to bring great chaos to our events, so judiciously discouraged him. But we discovered we had a surprisingly eclectic set of interests in common (property, art, film, jazz and world music plus vegetarian and vegan food) and before too long he and his much-loved dog, Rusty, were arriving at mine for lunch each day. It was as if he could sense it on the ether, as he invariably arrived the very moment food was ready, whether or not I had told him what time it would be. And even if he had not actually been invited.
My generosity and tolerant attitude soon backfired on me, though, as each day he brought paintings from his archive to show me. I delighted in the immersion into art this allowed me, but, somehow, not a single painting went back. And so, over just a few months, my entire home became a storehouse of paintings and canvasses, whilst I perched on the sofa in the few feet of free space left. I had met a cuckoo, who was entirely unrepentant at taking over my space! And, as it turned out, my life. I had wisely turned down his offer of becoming his manager, made just two weeks after we met. But after a few months I offered three days of consultancy to organize the marketing of his art. I thought this would keep things contained, but I had not reckoned on the force of chaos that he personified. Thus began my unexpected career as an artist’s manager.
I have documented much of this period in my humorous cautionary tale ‘Entertaining An Artist: Vegan. Wheatfree. Handful!’ which warns against allowing an artist into one’s life (and home). What I have learned from this, though, is that being truly open to the unexpected and looking with an artist’s eye to see creative possibilities instead of pre-determined categories can bring great richness to my life, and open doors that I had never dreamed of, including my prestigious Harley Street practice, my Banish Burnout program and even a home in Portugal.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Normally I would offer someone else’s quote, but this one is actually mine. I’m sharing it because it had such a profound impact on my life.
“It’s down to me whether life is experienced as positive or negative. I set the rules of the game.”
I had a revelation during the shifts in thinking brought about by my mid-life crisis that, whatever the situation I was facing, it was entirely within my control as to how I chose to approach it. Instead of feeling at the mercy of life, I could take charge of my experience. I found this incredibly freeing, and was amazed at how much energy had been taken up in the past being resentful about events. But when I directly took ownership of the mental filter through which I saw situations, I could appreciate the best of what was in that moment and any lessons it could teach me. It was a complete game changer and marked the start of my pathway to now.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I developed an innovative online program called Banish Burnout earlier this year. Burnout is a specialist area for which I am internationally known. Quite a few coaches and marketing gurus attempted to convince me to create an online course as an efficient way of helping more people. But I had already committed to further professional training, so ruled this out for the foreseeable future. I was all too aware of just how much attention it would require.
One morning, out of the blue, in the midst of that professional training, I woke up with a clear blueprint in my mind for Banish Burnout and a burning desire to create it. This was a call to action that one simply does not ignore. I wrote it over an extremely intense three months, even working during the night to keep it on track. Looking back, I can see I was immersed in a heightened state of creativity that enabled me to forge original ground in my thinking on burnout that I might not otherwise have reached.
I am incredibly proud of the program, as I have not only distilled my insight and experience of the last 25 years working with high achieving clients, but also expanded my own model of burnout into a comprehensive map which adds something new to the theoretical thinking. There’s nothing like it out there. It is my intention to translate the program into a book, but I am waiting for the next raft of unstoppable energy and enthusiasm before starting that task.
Feedback has been very positive, with participants saying how much they have gained from the comprehensive information and multi-media input in the program, which they are then invited to embed into their regular routine through self assessments and ‘micro actions’. One participant, for example, was delighted to be thinking more clearly again after just the first module.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Three qualities in particular have led to my success: courage, determination and creative vision.
- I’ve long had the courage to say yes to new experiences, even if I didn’t feel ready, then got my head down to make sure it happened. Early in my business career I was terrified of giving presentations, even to a small group. It was far out of my comfort zone. But I said yes, and stumbled my way through the first one, and felt great that I’d achieved it despite my dread. I looked for opportunities after that to talk and present until I felt comfortable enough to focus on what I was saying, instead of my anxiety. Imagine my exhilaration when asked to make a speech to 200 people at a conference. I even enjoyed myself. The audience applauded. I had done it! Presentations now are just a routine part of the working day.
- As a psychotherapist, determination has been an essential quality that kept me going through challenging professional trainings and its associated personal therapy. It seems to me that the process of psychotherapy training is similar to the formation of a diamond, where ordinary carbon is subjected to great heat and pressure until the molecules reorganize themselves into a new and more robust chemical lattice. Certainly, there were times during the course when it felt so like being in a pressure cooker that it would have been very easy to quit. But it was an essential part of the training experience, as psychotherapists have to be emotionally as well as psychologically solid to be helpful to their clients. Cue my determination! I found that just focusing on the practical next steps really helped, as it didn’t start me on second guessing my resolve to undergo this ordeal. Whereas positive statements (‘You got this, just keep going’), which ordinarily can be motivating raised the question of why I even wanted to do such a thing. There are times, of course, when revisiting a decision is the absolute best thing to do. But when the goal feels right, staying power, even through the most challenging bits, is the way to go. What I learned from this is that even when things feel at their most difficult, if I make the choice to stick with it, then my determination to see it through — to engage with what feels difficult — can act as a protective factor.
- Creative vision, the ability to imagine something that doesn’t yet exist, has been known to catapult businesses into an unimagined future. We only have to think of Steve Jobs, whose creative vision radically changed our notion of what computing looks like. On a much lesser scale, I am fortunate that my brain seems to often be weaving ideas in the background and, from time to time, I will get a flash of inspiration about a new way to do something familiar, such as how to manage my client notes so that I can work with them no matter where in the world I find myself, or a whole new direction to take my business towards, such as the compelling vision I woke up to one morning to create my unique online program Banish Burnout.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of burnout?
I have been thinking deeply about burnout for over 25 years. I have read much of the literature, lived it from the inside, developed my own unique model on how to turn it around, and proved that it works with thousands of successful professionals and entrepreneurs. I am regularly approached by the press and media for interviews and to contribute to articles on burnout. And I have created a ground-breaking program that takes burnout recovery way beyond the usual generic recommendations.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about beating burnout. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Burnout”? Can you explain?
Burnout often happens after an extended period, often six to eighteen months, of working too hard for too long, with insufficient opportunities to refill the tanks. It is a state of physical, mental and emotional depletion where our normal capabilities become overstretched, much like a rubber band losing its elastic. Common symptoms include prolonged exhaustion, impaired mental ‘executive functions’ (memory, attention, information processing), emotional fragility and a reduced ability to care. There can be a ‘last straw’ moment where everything starts to unravel, and we can no longer hold it all together.
How would you define or describe the opposite of burnout?
The opposite of burnout is thriving, or a sense of wellbeing. Feeling energized, capable, engaged in life, finding enjoyment, variety and a sense of achievement. To achieve this alongside a demanding work life requires a number of personal factors to be present, including good resilience skills (studies show highly resilient people are 60% less likely to experience burnout) and having a variety of physical and mental activities across the week to provide a balance between work, play, rest and activity.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Some sceptics may argue that burnout is a minor annoyance and we should just “soldier on’’ and “grin and bear it.” Can you please share a few reasons why burnout can have long-term impacts on our individual health, as well as the health and productivity of our society?
Burnout can be thought of as arising from a long-term plundering of the body’s resources until the tanks drop below a critical level and there’s not enough fuel to keep the motors running. My model of burnout acknowledges that there’s a physical aspect to burnout — the body becomes depleted of the key stress hormones that it needs to navigate the ordinary challenges of each day.
People often think that they’re being weak, or giving in, if they adjust their expectations when under long term pressure, so the need to ‘soldier on’ is something I often hear from clients who are used to achieving at high levels. But this only depletes the body’s resources further and takes them deeper into burnout.
These days, many of the clients I meet are experiencing burnout to a greater or lesser degree. It’s become the default state for many, made worse by the strain of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s reports of the ‘Great Resignation’, of huge numbers of people who are radically reconsidering the working conditions they are prepared to accept and leaving jobs which may have stretched their endurance too far.
My professional view is that our re-evaluation of what is truly important during the pandemic, coupled with the freedom (for some) of working from home and spending more time with family has highlighted how much some jobs (or companies) have become burnout incubators. It is time we learned how to do this work thing better, so that people can have a life that feels rich as well as rewarding.
From your experience, perspective, or research, what are the main causes of burnout?
I see a distinct difference between the states of stress and burnout. Simply put, when we are under stress, our body still has reserves that it can draw on to bounce back after a small amount of recuperation. By the time we’ve hit burnout, that resilience has long been used up, and there’s no reserve tank to draw on to keep us going.
The main causes of burnout are becoming overstretched: this could be through working at too fast a pace, overlong hours, always ‘on’, not enough variety of mental focus, too high a workload, and insufficient time to wind down properly. Some of these arise from a company’s unrealistic expectations of their employees, others might arise from the individual’s working style or personal traits, such as perfectionism or an inability to set clear boundaries, that adds to the strain of the working day. Possessing good resilience skills can account for a massive 60% reduction in susceptibility to burnout, according to a recent study, so this could be an important aspect to explore.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. What can an individual do if they are feeling burned out by work? How does one reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back?” Can you please share your “5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout?”. (Please share a story or an example for each.)
YOU TUBE LINK TO FOLLOW — video still in editing
I’m a great believer that, especially when people are already burnt out, the last thing they will want to do is to make huge changes to their routine. They probably don’t have enough bandwidth in their system to do so. So my recommendations are for simple things that most people will be able to do, no matter how depleted they feel.
1. POWER PAUSES: The first tip is to introduce daily Power Pauses. By this I mean stopping for a minute or a few minutes during your working day to briefly recharge. A few deep breaths, a short mindfulness routine, enjoying a cuppa (no multitasking, mind, just the cuppa), getting some fresh air — anything that allows you to put everything down mentally for that brief period and switch out of doing mode into ‘just being’. A few Power Pauses across the day are a quick and easy way to refresh one’s energy levels.
‘John’, a City executive was feeling overwhelmed by the workload he was expected to cover, including numerous additional ‘can you just do this’ tasks from his boss. He started to take Power Pauses, three or four times a day — just going somewhere quiet and breathing more deeply for a minute or slowly drinking a glass of water. “It was really simple to do — I just had to make sure I remembered to do it.” After a week of Power Pauses he was delighted that he was already starting to feel mentally sharp again.
2. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS: A second key strategy is to give yourself permission to temporarily lower your expectations. Can you stop doing some tasks altogether, or delegate them to someone else for the time being? If you are too inclined to say yes to all the projects that come along, is it time to say no on occasions? If you are a closet perfectionist, would it help to limit yourself to reviewing your documents no more than three times instead of your current twelve? Are there any home chores that could be done less frequently?
‘Sally’, who ran a small marketing business, found it hard to let go of checking how her marketing team were handling client campaigns, as she was concerned they wouldn’t do it as well as she could. When this led to her feeling burnt out, she had no choice but to give them more responsibility. “It really opened my eyes. Some of their campaigns just blew me away — and it helped the team develop their decision making skills too. I’ve learned I really can trust them to do a great job.”
3. VARIETY: Studies of the brain’s neural pathways are discovering that we can overuse some brain functions, such as absorbing large quantities of information or trying to find a rapid solution to a continual flow of tricky problems. Give your brain a boost by balancing it out with some variety. If your role demands a lot of mental focus, have an interlude where you’re doing something practical or creative for a while, or even nothing very much at all. ‘Pottering around’ is an excellent burnout tool, as the brain is naturally freed up from its normal load.
‘David’ was feeling burnt out after working long hours finalizing his clients’ accounts for their tax deadline. The repetitive focus on numbers and calculations (plus the late nights) had started to erode his capacity to think clearly or to manipulate figures quickly. We worked out that taking regular short breaks to listen to some music, or to chat (briefly!) about sporting events with his friends helped take the load off his overused ‘accounting circuit’ so that it could recover.
4. NATURE: Connecting with nature is a well researched antidote to stress and burnout. Trees and water can be especially soothing. The Japanese even have the tradition of forest bathing, a practice of actively attending to sights, sounds and smells whilst walking in the forest. Spending a few hours outdoors every so often really helps our brains switch into relax and repair mode. Interestingly, if the real thing isn’t to hand, studies have found that even looking at photos or videos of nature can have a calming effect.
‘Jenny’, a senior director, typically finds it hard to switch out of work mode, but during a rare day with friends at the beach realized this was the first time in a long while that she had felt “really peaceful”. She has pledged to repeat the experience soon.
5. CREATIVE TASK: A simple creative task is another great way to counteract a jaded brain. ‘Donna’ set herself the task of taking just one photo during her daily walk, the only proviso being that it should inspire a sense of beauty, awe or pleasure in her. By doing this she stopped ruminating on everyday problems whilst walking, because she was busy looking for something visual which matched her criteria. “I posted it later on social media, so had the pleasure all over again of choosing which was to be my photo of the day. It really turned my walks into a proper break from work”.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to help someone they care about reverse burnout?
The first priority is to check with them how they are doing, as it’s common to lose the ability to step back to notice when we are no longer coping well. Other people are likely to spot first that something is amiss. So just asking the question may bring it to their attention.
It’s common to need a lot more rest when in a state of burnout; not only sleep but more importantly mental rest. So if you can take on the responsibility for handling arrangements, dealing with household chores, providing an occasional home cooked meal, you will be freeing them from unnecessary mental load, which gives their brain a chance to recharge.
Another early sign of burnout is getting irritated more easily. So if your life partner has started being unusually grouchy around you, try not to take it personally. It’s a signal that they don’t have enough mojo in the tank to deal with the demands of this particular moment. What might work better is to comment on it, “You seem a bit snappy at the moment, which isn’t like you. Is something bothering you?”
You might also notice a colleague getting withdrawn, not joining in with office chat, doesn’t seem to have much energy for anything these days, and isn’t doing much beyond working, eating and sleeping. When burnt out, we go into survival mode, and conserve what energy we have left to the essential tasks of the day. There’s often not enough left over for jollity or ordinary social chat. In a work context, it’s probably best to draw it to their manager’s attention, as burnout can get serious enough to need substantial time off if it is allowed to deteriorate. Most companies have some access to mental wellbeing services, and the manager will want to ascertain what range of support measures your colleague might need.
What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
It’s all too common for employers to focus on burnout as being their employees’ problem (or weakness). So any support is typically geared towards helping their staff address their assumed lack, such as providing counseling or other wellbeing schemes. But companies often fail to look hard enough at their own contribution to employee burnout. I would say there are three main areas they should look out for.
What are you, the organization, doing that is leading to your employees burning out? Is there a culture of impossible workloads, too few staff, long hours, competitiveness, or senior leaders not modeling a good work-life balance? Are the company’s good intentions backed up by what people actually do? How can the senior team model a more benign culture, to provide leadership on this from the top?
What are line managers doing that is leading to their team burning out? Do they have the people skills that help employees feel supported, do they listen and act when workers say they are struggling, can they (and are they allowed to) juggle the paradox of the company needing results whilst the employee needs to dial down? Do they have the skills to motivate, mentor and challenge workers in a fair and objective way, do they have training on how to be a manager, and are they supported and mentored themselves?
And, finally, what specific help and support do individual employees need to manage pressure and high but realistic workloads, whilst keeping up with a rewarding life inside and outside of work?
I am relieved to see that companies are starting to create a dialogue about what they need to do differently so that burnout is not unwittingly created by the company culture or a relentless focus on increasing production.
These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
We are seeing companies becoming much more aware over the past year of just how burnt out their staff have become and this is leading to a new debate about what companies should do to address this. There’s been a move towards company-wide PTO (paid time off) of a week or even longer, with the rationale that if everyone is off at the same time, the pressure to keep up with emails and other perceived work demands is taken away. Workers have reported being able to properly switch off during this time, perhaps for the first time in a very long while.
Some companies have polled their employees on what measures would make a difference, with popular requests being ‘no meeting’ days, and encouragement from the company for employees to ‘say no’ more often to requests that ask too much of them.
Innovation of this sort is best incubated through ongoing dialogue. In the UK, concerned companies in the City of London have come together with ‘mental health experts, people with lived experience and industry partners’ to form the City Mental Health Alliance. The intention is to identify how best to support the mental health and wellbeing of their workers, set good practice benchmarks, and create resources to support companies in walking their talk.
I would like to see this initiative repeated around the world so that all organizations can finally be places where individuals can thrive and fulfill their potential instead being subjected to a working environment that makes them unwell.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to reverse burnout in themselves or others? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
I have seen people make plenty of mistakes around burnout. Sadly it’s all too common to fail to notice there’s anything wrong, before burnout takes hold, as one of the side effects of stress is that we lose visibility of how we are being affected. I’d recommend identifying an ‘early warning sign’, something you know signals that you are on that downwards path again — becoming irritable at small things, perhaps — and a simple ‘first response’ that you know helps you to interrupt that pattern, such as taking 10 minutes out to regroup, or get some fresh air, so you don’t have to work out what to do at the point when your resilience is stretched.
Another common mistake is to keep pushing on when starting to feel fatigued instead of listening to your body on what it needs. ‘I’ll just get this project finished’. ‘It’s weak to give in’. It’s all too easy to focus on the end goal and forget to look at whether the tank needs refilling along the way. Build in regular small moments into your daily and weekly routine for ‘Power Pauses’, so you can recharge as you go and stay sharp.
A third common issue is getting caught up in rumination. This is where your natural daydreaming facility crosses over into a toxic negative focus that continually whirrs in the background. I teach a unique strategy to clients for bypassing rumination, which includes a vital step that most approaches seem to miss out. But as a self help tool it’s hard to beat mapping out on paper the things that are circling in your head. It may seem rather simplistic, but this brings you out of daydream mode and into a proactive mindset where you can more easily engage with your concerns on a practical level.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’d like to champion the idea of resilience skills as a core part of the curriculum for all young people no matter where they are in the world. Learning how to harness one’s inner grit, to stay focused on what matters (but know when it is time to change track), develop great ways of keeping a resourceful mindset and bounce back when things don’t work out: all of these are essential to navigating one’s way successfully through life. Outstanding schools already go some way towards teaching this. Just imagine how the world could be if we all prioritized mental and emotional resilience as much as we do grades and course results.
I also have a passion for challenging organizations to embrace the paradigm that is just emerging of genuinely focusing on their employees’ personal and professional wellbeing, alongside creating sustainable profits in an ethical way. The era of people being seen as commodities or resources that can be ruthlessly exploited must end. The innovative initiative in the finance district of London — the City Mental Health Alliance — shows us one way in which this new paradigm can be made real. I’d like to see many collaborative networks like this come into being to form a new global force for mental wellbeing.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
There are many admirable women out there who are demonstrating how female leadership can make a vital difference to the world. One of the most inspiring to me is Tanni Grey-Thompson, who The Guardian newspaper called ‘Britain’s first disabled sports superstar’. She has overcome profound difficulties most of us will never face, including being born with spina bifida and losing her ability to walk at the age of 7. But she has turned those obstacles into victories, going on to win 11 Paralympic gold medals and create 30 world records. Tanni moved on to a media career alongside campaigning for disability rights, women’s issues and welfare reform, before being made a life peer in 2010 and taking up a seat in the House of Lords.
At every turn, she not only provides inspiration to others, but repeatedly demonstrates the importance of integrity, mindset and grit (aka resilience skills). If we could talk over lunch, I’d be intrigued to hear her take on how to translate her strategies for succeeding at a high level in sport into burnout strategies that anyone could use.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Free checklist of the Top 10 Signs of Burnout: https://bit.ly/burnoutfreechecklist
Website for the Banish Burnout program — www.banish-burnout.com
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/banish-burnout/
Facebook — www.facebook.com/theharleyconsultancy
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/theburnoutexpert/
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 0044 7796 904473
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!