What is burnout?
Burnout is a state and a process of human system failure – a failure of the emotional, physical and mental system – that comes from an excessive, prolonged or chronical disbalance between drive for achievement and care for resourcefulness, between stress and rest.
What explains the burnout?
Beyond the excessive and prolonged disbalance stress – rest, many other underlining or deriving factors may explain the burn out. As a coach I’ve often encountered the presence of a compromised balance and paralyzed generative intelligence, which may have its source among others in:
Compromised Sense of responsibility and accomplishment:
When a person feels very driven in achieving a target and does not see the results following in a way that she or important others would appreciate, she gets into a spiral of putting more work in, neglecting rest, shutting down creativity and mindfulness, disconnecting and letting go of small little pleasures and being controlled by “I have to get there; I have to fix this”. As a result, the person feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Faced with her sense of responsibility, the generative system of the person breaks down and the burnout kicks in.
Compromised sense of freedom and control:
When a person senses a reduced sense of freedom and control of her day (the tasks, the time and the way she performs them), of her work results, and of her role in the network of relationships (from a smaller to a larger system work) her internal safety and motivational system is compromised. Adding to this a context of a workload, variety or complexity that is excessive to what the person is willing or has built the capacity to handle, a context of a lengthy or repetitive duration, and a sense of no escape leads undoubtedly to a worn-out person.
Compromised sense of identity and reward.
Sense of achievement is related tightly to a person’s sense of identity. In a society where you’re valued by what you’ve achieved, your identity is shattered when what you are putting your effort or heart into is not resulting into an “achievement”. And when the illusion of the achievement is related to more effort and less rest, we lose sight of the purpose of the achievement. The sense of reward is jeopardised, and we feel no satisfaction – resembling to a machine that keeps going without a driver.