We talk a lot about avoiding burnout these days: "the economy", "work/life balance", and all sorts of topics provide us with lots to discuss and lots to "work harder" on. In my experience, the quickest way I know to prevent burnout is not to "avoid it" (after all, we create what we think about, and even more so what we avoid), but rather to make sure we're doing stuff that has meaning and purpose for us - EVERY SINGLE DAY. Especially when in the midst of stressful or challenging times. Finding joy, dreaming and focusing on the impact we want to create with our lives, can help us focus on the right things, put our attention in productive areas, and lead us through the unknown paths.
If you're not in the dream role, dream business or dream situation right now, it's worth taking the time to explore what that dream role might be, and then getting into action. If you're not feeling "the love" in your life or connected or engaged, it's worth reaching out to create it. If you're dissatisfied, it's worth, finding the "request" under that dissatisfaction and getting into action. I believe that one of the greatest GIFTS we have in our lives, bar none, is to be able to identify where we're at, where we want to be and then to do something with it. Those "gaps" in satisfaction are beacons that can show us what needs to be designed in our lives (and organizations) to make it even better.
How does this apply to you personally? I'm not sure, obviously only you can know what's true for you. And I do know that I personally am in the question everyday of "What reality am I creating for myself?" "How am I helping things go right? Or not?" My beliefs and mindset influence the actions I take which influence the results I get - at work, at home, and in life in general. Seeing this makes it easier, because I can create a "presence point" to check my mindset and see where it's at and where it may need to shift in order to create my intended impact.
There are certain things I've found that must be in my life in order to help me be as resourceful and productive as possible. Some of these include great self-care, doing something(s) I LOVE every single day, getting and giving my "12 hugs" a day in (at least, and more on that soon), focusing on mission, engaging with people, and being grateful for the people, things and circumstances in my life. These help me and I offer them as a framework for you as well if one, or all, of them resonate.
Regardless of where you are on your path right now, loving it, hating it, thinking about it, planning it, etc. - if you can make it a point to do something every day that brings you joy and purpose from the inside out - I'd say you're headed in the right direction. Wouldn't you? And what else? Wait for it --- wait for it --- yep, you got it: Taking excellent care of yourself is going to help things hum even more. I believe heart and soul that this is key. It's all about sustaining yourself and setting yourself up to be the most productive, awake and powerful instrument of change possible (if that's what you want.) It's about creating the path for you to step into what you want and to lead in a way that is real and joyful and productive.
I'm talking about "personal sustainability" here. If you haven't heard me discuss personal sustainability before, it's basically my defination and practice of "the art of integrating self-care, presence, mindset, mission, authenticity and engagement with leadership to create real and sustainable results in one's life." I believe it's essential and it helps create effective leadership from the inside out -- which is what we want right? It's more sustainable and enjoyable, and the bottom line is that more can get done from this place. Good things happen.
What is fascinating to me is how much this gets taken for granted or put on the back burner. One can get so focused on numbers, skills, bottom lines, and "leading" - that he/she can easily forget about themselves in the equation. I'm talking about your ability to make sure that your "inner game of leadership" has an optimal impact on your "outer game." The most inspiring leadership, the best results produced, the best companies built, are built best by leaders and teams who lead from the inside out. This means looking at your mindset, your health/vitality/energy, your presence and the way you engage your people. It's all connected and all key to being at the top of your game.
What I notice about the art of personal sustainability is that as people get closer to it, and embody it more, it becomes part of who they are and moves into what I call the "non-negotiable" territory in their lives. It becomes a part of them. The path is neverending, and the ability to tap into their own form of personal sustainability is priceless and continuously evolving. They find they're more effective and productive in leadership when they engage here (in whatever way that means for them.) They have a clearer resource state. They have more energy. It's just a more joyful place to come from. Most see it. Some don't. And what's ironic is that even those who are "in" it and don't see the impact personal sustainability (or the lack of it) has on them and their leadership, the people closest to them do. The people they live with and lead. They see it. They feel it. They're impacted by it. So how great that we can make our impact better, more expansive and more engaged (and feel better internally), by doing a bit on the inner game and working our own personal sustainability.
Did you know that the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book had 144 rejections from publishers before someone said "YES"? 144 rejections. Think about that. What would you do with 144 "no's"? (What would you do with 10?) Who did he have to "be" and what did he have to "believe" to keep moving? What do you suppose his "mindset" was? What was his vision? Years ago I personally witnessed individuals who'd been told they "absolutely could not do it, no way, no how" (for physical reasons), cross the IronMan Triathlon finish line in Kona. That scene has stuck in my mind, heart and body for years. What I know is that when we create positive intentions, hold productive beliefs, focus on mission and vision, and keep moving into it - we get there. It may not look exactly as we thought it would, but if we want it enough, we get there. That persistence is a gift.
These stories also make me think about how different things would be if these people had given up at 1, 2, or even 5 "no's". How would their lives be different? What would the world have missed out on? What impact would have been lost? I'm not telling you to go out and do an IronMan or work against your physical abilities, I do want to remind you of the power of the mind and perseverance and what's possible when we believe and act and WANT.
Inquiry for you: How many times do you have to hear "NO" before you give up or walk away from something? Personally, I used to hate hearing "no." (Truth be told, I still don't really love it, AND I have developed a new appreciation for it.) For sure there've been times when even one or two no's have sent me to a place of doubt, reflection and dare I say even giving up. What I've learned though is that being told no isn't what's "bad", what's bad about it is the story we make up about it. Our own self-torturing internal mind chatter. That is where the NO hurts the most. Of course it's disappointing and of course being told no isn't always ideal - and if we can catch our mindset - we can move through it much more effectively and resiliently and then be in a better state for a creative "next." In my experience, "no" usually leads to something much better. A more thoughtful product, relationship, solution, etc. What I have to be committed to for myself, my clients, and my business is being willing to hear that "no" and embrace it so that I either connect with the right yes, or make my request more compelling.
So what's your "relationship" with the word "no"? What does "no" bring up for you? When you do what you love, take care of yourself and even embrace "no," you move. If you want something badly and believe in it with your whole heart - you keep going. That "yes" may not be right here, right now --- but you never know when you're going to match up with the right resounding YES. And you never know how much better that YES is going to be because of the original NO. Allies and champions are ALL around - it's the mindset, the attitude and our willingness to lean in to our own edges that help us find them.
Here's to the power of your mind, the power of the productive "no," to doing what you love, and to creating in your life.