Sunday, October 5, 2014

Are You Burned Out, Or Worn Down?

In order to burnout a person needs to have been on fire at one time.

This is according to Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson, authors of Burnout, a book that examines the phenomenon of burnout. It draws upon more than 100 workshops conducted all over the country and abroad, and nearly 4,000 of their own case studies.

Their studies reveal that those who enter a job/field/industry with great passion in their early years, and give more of themselves as a result, are the most susceptible to severe burnout.

How do they define burnout? A state of mind that afflicts individuals who work with other people. Burnout is the result of constant or repeated emotional pressure associated with intense involvements with people over long periods of time.

It's important to note how they distinguish burnout from tedium.

Tedium is the result of any prolonged chronic pressures; it is the result of having too many negative and too few positive features in one's environment -  too many pressures, conflicts, and demands, combined with too few acknowledgments and meaningful accomplishments.

We are all susceptible to career burnout and work tedium.

Upon finishing this book, it made me think of the countless people that I deal with as a career and life coach...and how similar they are to light bulbs and tires.

Light bulbs (the people who possess great passion) are effervescent; they illuminate a special light that benefits others. Eventually, they will burn out - with no warning. Just gone. Finished. Used up. They have to re-energize by redeploying their talent in some other capacity, or reinventing themselves altogether (think Oprah the talk show host, transformed into Oprah, the OWN Network CEO/President).

Tires on the other hand (the people who just put their head down and do the work), wear down from prolonged use. You can feel them getting worn down. They are rugged, but they have no passion for what they do, so they can only endure so much, for so long...

Whether you are a light bulb (passionate employee) or a tire (diligent worker), burning out or getting worn down depends on your (personality/temperament) and the environment you work in. Either way, as the authors point out, recognizing the signs of burnout and tedium can be the catalyst for important life changes, growth, and development -  if you embrace them as such.