Waylen is not ok. How are you?

In Waylen’s* last coaching session the things he arrived with weren’t the conversation he really needed to have… Very quickly we got to ‘I think I might be suffering from burn out’.

Waylen described:

  • Feeling like he had a hangover (without having drunk the night before)
  • Thinking in the morning ‘How do I get through today?’
  • Experiencing challenges concentrating and reduced confidence
  • Frustration that he doesn’t seem to be able to solve his own problems
  • Worrying that he isn’t providing enough support for peers who seem under pressure, and that he might let people down

Like many of you, Waylen is a working parent in a senior leadership role. He has dipped into massive reserves of resilience over the past 2.5 years so that he could provide personal and professional support to others during the challenges of COVID. And now – not surprisingly – he is deeply tired and has little left to give.

If I could wave my magic wand and make anything possible, what would you do?

Waylen’s ideal scenario was to take 3 months off, look after himself – exercise and eat well, get out and windsurf (something he never has time for now), and ‘do stuff for me’.

And then the Buts kicked in…. But I don’t have enough leave accrued… But I have a mortgage and renovations planned… But I don’t want to let people down at work… But I am worried I might look weak because I am not resilient enough…**

After exploring this further, Waylen decided to make lifestyle adjustments:

  • Talk to his partner about how they run the household, including improving diet
  • Get more support with childcare and school pickup/drop-offs
  • Take leave to rest (not just to get stuff done)
  • Ride his bike to work on non-school transit days, to build exercise into his routine
  • Check back in at his next coaching session

After the conversation, Waylen reported feeling a bit better, partly because the worry was out of his head and he had a plan, and partly because I assured him that he was not the only person experiencing this.

Many leaders I talk to now are not okay. Executive teams are (and should be) talking about this… It’s a conversation at board level.

It’s also a conversation for you. How are you today? How are you really? And what will you do? This might be workstyle/lifestyle adjustments, or you may seek professional advice (your EAP may be a good start).

Feeling burned out and keeping it to yourself is not Fearless Leadership!

Go Fearlessly (and kindly to yourself and others)

*Not his real name. Published with his permission.

** This is a view I would like to challenge… And it’s a little off topic for today… In a future blog…