Burnout is not a Light Word

burnoutBurnout is a word that is often misused by people who do not know what it really means. For some it is an excuse, reason to have the extra time out and for some it is a trendy word to emphasize how hard you have worked and how efficient you are.

Let me tell you. Don’t use that word if you don’t know what it means!

Burnout killed my dad.

When you get the burnout. Everyone will know that you have it. There is no return. Two weeks of sick leave wont cure it. It might that you wont come back ever.

I have seen people who have returned to work after the collapse and it is not easy.

My dad lost his job. It was not only that he lost his job, but he lost it through betrayal.

I was there when it happened and I saw that betrayed and disappointed face first time in my life. I was 16 and I will never forget it. Devastating disappointment in a face that was always optimistic, hard-working and hard trying. His eyes were grey.

Sometimes when I am extremely tired, low and perhaps disappointed, I look in the mirror, I see that same face and I am scared.

My dad did not give up. He did start his own company. He did took the loan against our house and bought the storage of his ex-employer with a cheap price. He continued what he had done over 20 years successfully. He was importing and selling agricultural machinery. Times change and recession hit. It was extremely difficult to get started. Phone did not ring and calls did not lead anywhere. Desperation did grow.

I remember standing inside the storage with piles of machines and I asked who is going to buy all this? Someone will, eventually, he replied. I did not believe him.

But somehow he did it. He did sell everything. One by one. Even ordered few items more and loan was paid and he did make a living out from that.

But it was too much.

His mental health collapsed completely and following years he was not anymore the person how we all did know him. He exhausted, tired and burnout.

Several years after he did die to heart attack. Heart attack was only physical result of his mental state.

Burnout did kill him.

In an article in under30.ceo they claim symptoms of burnout are:

* You are having difficulty finding motivation to work
* You do not feel like going to your workplace
* You have a shorter temperament for your employees and colleagues
* You feel disengaged from your work
* You feel that you lost your passion for work-related tasks and activities

That is exactly where it goes wrong. Those are NOT signs of a burnout! They are signs that you are in a wrong job that can lead to a burn-out. They might be signs of bad leadership and badly working organization or stress, but you don’t have a burnout.

You need to change your job inside where you work or change where you work completely!  In other words you need a kick in a butt and only you can kick. I wrote recently How to have job of your dreams here.

Person who is in a burn-out state is not anymore capable of evaluating if he is disengaged or not. He is completely worn out, mentally exhausted and incapable of doing anything. ..and he needs a doctor and that is way more serious than lost motivation.

Burnout is not a light word.

Photo credot Flick and Hartwig HKD

  • philippe99

    Rami, I had a burnout 6 years ago … and if at this moment, either for me or my colleagues, “there were no sign of it”! I had fully recovered in two months by leaving my computer off and doing the lumberjack for friend.

    Now, as the employee reference person for healthcare in my company, I have learnt “the signs”. They are always of the same mold: “changing humor”.

    * a colleague who never spoke to other and suddenly you can stop it talking
    * a colleague who jokes without and suddenly cries on you because you do not answer that email.
    * a man who speaks hours with female colleagues about his wonderful woman, child, life…. (family burnout)

    “Changing humor” is the key and covers more than 90% of the cases.
    The other 10% are more complicated and are a mix of “quitting a well paid job”, “kill himself”, “blow out the office/room/car”….
    With the chief of the security&health dpt, we built a test based on Maslach Burn out Inventory (MBI test): each year we detect two or three colleagues which are the burnout border…. and we help them to escape from this hell…

    • http://betterproductivityblog.com/ Rami Rantala

      >* a colleague who never spoke to other and suddenly you can stop it talking

      That is exactly what I did see. The persons came back from the sick leave and after few weeks, they could not stop talking – and then again they were on a sick leave.

      Thank you for sharing that. It is a perfect insight for the post!

      Did you come back to the same position? Would you be able to recognise the symptoms from yourself – now after you have gone through it?

      • philippe99

        Yes, Rami I come back to the same position: my boss recognized the problem and now I’m also involve in the healthcare unit in my company. I followed courses (RedCross) on two levels: CPR first aid and burnout detection.

  • http://www.nateanglin.com/ Anwell Steve

    Rami, your story really tells that burnout is not a light word and it’s indeed a strong word that could even lead to death. The misconception has been clarified from this article. I love to pick the line that burnout should not make as an excuse to have a reason to have extra time. If you only set your priorities to reach your goals then there’s no excuses. Here’s a great article regarding the excuse epidemic and why you’re failing. I hope everyone can relate to this.


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