I hear many people saying that work is crazy busy right now. It usually is this time of year. On top of the end of year frenzy, many of us struggle with pressure to deliver more with less resources, often with less clarity.
I listened to a talk by an emergency physician about Triage – a sorting system to allocate limited resources to do as much good as possible. The criteria differ between country and situation, but in essence: when disaster hits, there should be no doubt about whom to treat first.
Without in any way comparing corporate pressure to emergency care, wouldn’t it be great to have a clear-cut way to allocate our personal resources (time, energy, and cognitive capacity) when things get ‘crazy busy’?
As a starting point, ask yourself:
1️⃣ What are my top 3 priorities? (the easy part)
2️⃣ How are they reflected in my calendar? (the painful part)
3️⃣ How can I design my work, so that my most productive time is spent on my top priorities? (the game-changing part)
Or as Steven C would say: When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.
If my business had a muse, it would be Louisa in Encanto 🏋♀️
I watched the movie again with my kids the other day. The lyrics really speak to my mission of helping high achievers perform sustainably.
❓❓ What would you say to Louisa, to the ‘Louisas’ in your team, to yourself if you identify?
“I’m the strong one, I’m not nervous
I’m as tough as the crust of the Earth is
I move mountains, I move churches
And I glow, ’cause I know what my worth is
I don’t ask how hard the work is
I take what I’m handed, I break what’s demanded…
Under the surface, I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service
Under the surface, I hide my nerves and it worsens
It’s pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, whoa, oh, oh
Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks, no mistakes
Who am I if I can’t run with the ball?
Who am I if I can’t carry it all?”
The stress-vulnerability model is often used to understand the causes of mental health issues and burn-out.
As you can guess, two dimensions are involved: “Vulnerability” refers to our basic sensitivities and is determined by our genetics as well as life experiences. “Stressors” refers to the situations or challenges faced in our lives.
Many employers are focusing more time and money on preventing negative stress instead of treating already burnt out co-workers. Great for the individual and the bottom line!
However stress prevention is often focused on the situational stressors, such as workload with very little attention given to understanding individual vulnerabilities.
A study from 2019 published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research found that ambition or “being passionate about doing well” is a strong vulnerability factor for burn-out. Key themes for situational stressors were “teamwork,” “manager,” and “work and personal circumstances.”
In summary the study shows that a discrepancy between individual vulnerability (ambition) and situational stressors can lead to burn-out. Therefore, burnout prevention needs to target the individual’s vulnerabilities as well.
Through my own Achievement Detox and coaching of high performers, I have learnt a couple of things when it comes to ambition and burn-out:
- Like any overused strengths your ambition or achievement superpower can damage your health, relationships and even your results.
- Learning to control your need to achieve does not mean turning your ambition off, you’re simply using it in a smarter way
- By taking your achiever hat off once in a while and letting other unique personality traits such as your creativity or kindness shine, you become a more interesting and productive person.
Do you or your team want to work smarter to prevent burn-out? Book a webinar, workshop, or coaching session with me.
Source: Vulnerability and Stressors for Burnout, September 2019. The Canadian journal of nursing research