Are you at risk of burnout?

Having a strong desire to achieve can help you be very successful; but if it’s not balanced it could put you at risk of burnout.

I see clients who are incredibly hard-working. They push themselves to be successful in their career and their life, but some don’t notice (or ignore it) when they feel tired and unwell, and end up functioning less than their best. This article looks at what you can do to recognise the warning signs, and maintain optimal health and performance.

Defining burnout*

Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to:

  • physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

It doesn’t happen suddenly, rather, it creeps up on you. The sooner you recognise (and react to) the symptoms, the easier it will be to avoid. I’ve created the table below to help you think about yourself and how well you are doing – are you thriving, surviving or burning out?


Emotional Intelligence

Are you able to recognise when you are losing concentration? Starting to feel tired? Too hungry to think clearly? If you don’t take a break, you will become ineffective or even ill. What’s more, there will be a ripple effect on the people you lead.

One component of Emotional Intelligence is noticing your physical symptoms and learning to manage them.

Please let me know if you’d like to take a simple Emotional Intelligence Test. I’ll give you personalised feedback and help you evolve a strategy.

This links to my article about Emotionally Intelligent Teams

Johari window

Have you heard of the Johari Window? Luft and Ingham observed that there are aspects of our personality that we’re open about, and other elements that we keep to ourselves. At the same time, there are things that others see in us that we’re not aware of. As a result, you can draw up a four-box grid, which includes a fourth group of traits that are unknown to anyone.

Disclosing more of yourself and getting feedback from others raises your self-awareness and builds trust with others; both aspects are helpful for your wellbeing and personal growth.

Download Johari window (Word document)

Working styles  

According to AD International, there are five working styles based on what personally drives us:

  • Hurry up: Desire to do things quickly, but a lack of planning and rushing means mistakes can be made
  • Be perfect: A quest for perfection and accuracy, but may provide too much detail and be too slow
  • Please people: Nurturing and caring and promote harmony, but tends to put other people’s needs before their own
  • Try hard: Tackles work enthusiastically, but may not finish the task as interest wears off
  • Be strong: Calm under pressure and a strong sense of responsibility, but finds it hard to ask for help or show feelings

When you know which style you are, you can learn how to manage it.

Download Working styles PDF


Please click the image to enlarge it.

The Enneagram is a great personal development tool that divides people into nine types.

For example: type 1 is a perfectionist. Nothing is ever good enough and they get stressed by focusing on making things perfect. They need to make time to relax.

Type 3 people have a strong desire to achieve and to be seen in a positive image, and don’t know when to stop.

Knowing your type will give you insight into what drives you, what your natural strengths are and potential aspects of your personality that may stress or limit you. I’ve used this tool in coaching and with teams and found it brings a deep level of insight.

Please let me know if you’d like to complete the Enneagram questionnaire and get feedback.

Top tips

Ask yourself what drives you to keep working and focusing on outputs? Take a step back to gain perspective; do you recognise any of these?

  • Innate positive desire to achieve and be successful – this is healthy 🙂
  • Fear of failure – see last month’s article on why you should celebrate failure
  • Your sense of status and worth is strongly pegged to achievements
  • Company downsizing / fear of job loss
  • Company culture
  • A boss who drives performance and has little interest in people

If you do recognise any of these, then what are your options and what could you do about them?

How can you (re-)gain a healthy balance between achievement and your inner needs? Staying true to who you are, will increase your chances of staying healthy, both inside and out.

Should you live for your résumé or your eulogy?

Comedian, Billy Crystal, gave a moving and funny tribute to the late Mohammed Ali that is well worth watching.

What legacy do you wish to leave?

So much focus is on our achievements. They are important, and make the world go round, they help you grow and provide for your family. But don’t let this stop you focusing on time for yourself. Your value is not solely based on what you achieve, but also on the type of person you are, and how you are with people around you.

For more on this, watch this five-minute TED talk by David Brooks (warning: he speaks very quickly!).

Adam 1: Focus on résumé – tangible results, skills and achievements
Adam 2: Focus on eulogy – what people will say at your funeral about who you are, the nature of your relationships, and your values

Next month: Action-centred leadership: how to balance the needs of the individuals in your team, the needs of the team, and the needs of the task.

If you found this information useful, please click the social media buttons below, to share a link to this article with your network, and let me know if you’d like more details about this topic.