I had done it before but this time was different…there in the midst of my purpose driven quest for enlightenment my 80 hour work weeks had caught up to me and while I had wanted to continue to move forward, so I could build my brand, achieve the unthinkable, lead the charge, and hopefully change the world in the process my body mind and spirit came crashing down around me one messy piece at a time….literally everything just stopped working….all at a point where I had just started to be more visible than I have ever been before in my career…It was like riding in a new car, windows down, radio up feeling good…you notice that the folks on the side of the road are smiling at you as you drive by…you smile a little wider and feel a little more confident in your new shiny ride…then BAM the engine falls right out and is laying on the asphalt…all you can do is sheepishly smile while you wait for triple A….so yes I have been collecting my engine from the middle of the road….a valuable reminder that to truly be purposeful and aligned with God’s plan you have to consider your whole self and all that that means in the process…
This is where memorial day weekend found me…middle of the road…slowly examining my engine and trying to get back on the road….luckily my best friend and her family have a tradition of going to Ocean City MD each memorial day of which I have been a part since the tradition started…despite not originally having plans I found myself able to move from my coma on the coach to the car and to wake up in OC….Sleep packing is never a good process and so not only was I short a swim suite but I did the unthinkable…left my laptop at home…100% accidental…but 100% what I needed the most…for me there is nothing better than sand, sun, some reggae music and people around you that can make you belly laugh…being able to fully unplug for a couple of days and be in the moment with those things that energize me was incredible and on returning to my trusty laptop I was able to do in 2 hours what I had worried would take all weekend ….while I was energized and happy to start moving to the “better” side of burnout…the last thing I would have thought I would find myself doing was starting my blog tonight…but in a strange moment of clarity I realized that if I really want to be great at the work that I do, if I really want this blog to add value and be authentic then this may just be the perfect time to start…
…When I originally decided to start this blog I envisioned capturing many of the enlightened ideas, thoughts, amazing experiences, etc. that I feel so blessed to experience through my work and travels and compelled to share…I certainly didn’t envision it starting from within a cloud of burnout …in fact I believe when I first decided to create the blog I thought my burnout days were behind me… I thought I had learned how to dance between the rain drops…which maybe I had until I forgot that the most important part is to keep dancing and enjoying the journey…needless to say this recent bought with burnout caught me by surprise on many levels…. a firm believer that there are no accidents and that everything does in fact happen for a reason…I have been known to see “set-backs” with a positive lens but when I thought of starting the blog now it wasn’t my optimistic “the sun will come out tomorrow” side, but my analysis and research side that felt drawn to start tonight…. the further that I go into the “human side” of what makes our businesses run the more I am affirmed that the neatly packaged solutions of yesterday whether labeled as diversity, HR, leadership, etc. may not be the right solutions for what our organizations and our marketplaces are facing…making something about this moment of raw humanness that I am moving through personally and professionally actually seems like the perfectly imperfect place to start sharing my journey, thoughts, findings, etc…because this is it…”the mess”…the imperfect reality that is an outcome of trying to do too much, be too much, and push too hard all while trying to maintain an aura of perfection….sound familiar…?
If you are like me you stay at a buzz just below burnout that feels somehow “normal” then when it really matters you “dig deep” hoping that absolute exhaustion holds off “for a convenient time” as you push until there is nothing left (burnout) then you try to piece together as much of a recharge as you can without slowing down too much and your back at it again….while I wouldn’t wish this norm on anyone what the data says is that most people reading this can relate….I believe that much of the strain that we put ourselves through isn’t the work alone but the stress related to our absolute avoidance of imperfection…I truly believe that it is this construct where somehow images of perfection have replaced our reality is one of the most dangerous cultural norms in our American society today….we hurt ourselves daily trying to cover imperfections, seek perfection etc. Whether at work or at home it is impossible to create real solutions, strategies, or ultimately to lead authentically when you are building on a shaky foundation forged to mask what another perceives to be an imperfection….ironically I know this deeply but my inner perfectionist keeps politely asking if we can do this work by “allowing” everyone else to be imperfect while we keep it together….it seems the universe has laughed and the answer has come back no….and so here I am wading through my imperfections and gearing up for a “vulnerability hangover” as Brene Brown says….but in this realization I have also found more peace than I have known over the past couple of weeks after the engine fell out…Peace in that I know I am not off the right track at all but exactly where I need to be…leadership, operations, diversity and inclusion, corporate culture, you name it…..all functions of the “People” side of work…which by the way is the messy, unpredictable, imperfect, side but also the amazing, innovative, and prolific side…
Don’t worry I did’t share my personal snapshot to t-up unpacking my personal baggage one item at a time with you (that would be a different blog) However, I do want to use the story to set context as I intend to harness the “realness” of burnout and other common workplace experiences to really start to explore how we can walk that bridge from messy to innovative…something tells me that you have to be ready to jump in and get a little messy yourself…by getting real about the complexities of today’s workplace and the human experience I believe we can uncover new tools to help us thrive and accelerate personally and professionally as well as start to shift the lens through which we see our work to help forge a more authentic, innovative, and successful future.
I am excited to start this journey and am truly grateful to all of you who choose to join me! Thank you in advance for making this conversation come to life with your comments, thoughts, questions, and stories!
Here’s to messy!
Would love to hear from you….
– Do you think burnout is a natural part of life or a construct of a “do too much” society?
– How do you get your flame back after burnout?
– Do you believe that burnout is more mental, physical, or emotional in nature?
– What are your thoughts on the relationship between imperfection, authenticity, and growth?
– What is it about human nature, our workplaces, etc. that makes transparent ownership and growth from our failures such a difficult leadership behavior?