Her email was all too familiar: “So I have a little problem and I’m hoping you can help me. I’m completely exhausted! I’m having trouble knowing what’s due to my situation and what’s due to the way I’m leading. Can we schedule a coaching session? Soon?”
When I met with my dear, desperate leader friend, she shared how she felt she was being pulled in 18 different directions, all at the same time. She was wiped out and not sure how to prevent the inevitable burnout she saw on the horizon.
Ever been there? I know I have.
The Burnout Bug
I had a couple of years when I was running on empty. At the end of every day, I would collapse into my bed and pray for a few hours of sleep, only to find my mind so wound up that sleep wouldn’t come. When the alarm went off the next morning, I would force myself out of bed, dreading the demands of the day.
Fueled by double shot lattes and a strong sense of responsibility, I would take on every request for one more meeting, one more volunteer need, one more social gathering, and one more snuggle and story—all the while daydreaming of running away from my cell phone and living above a bakery on a tiny island where I would spend my days sampling new cupcake flavors while working on my tan. Or maybe I would change my name to Sister Mary Something-or-Other and join a convent in the Alps and live a life of simplicity with nuns who also happen to perform Broadway shows. Too bad I was too tired to decide which one was the more viable option. (Hey, no judging my sleep-deprived daydreams!)1