Pulling out of COVID burnout

Even with all my self-mastery skills, I still fell prey to burnout.


It's not like me to be cranky.


It crept up on me. Frustration, anger, feeling short-tempered. All the signs that my inner world was out of control and a volcano in my outer world was about to erupt.


Not sure about you, but the last few weeks of lockdown have stripped me down to survival. It’s survive, not thrive, and it's hard to work against environmental factors like Covid. It's undeniable that you cant play Superman or Wonder woman and push against the natural forces of the universe.


So I chose to stop spinning some plates and let them fall and break. I let go of the worry of the opinion of others. I let important phone calls go to voice mail. I did not return them. I withdrew. I chose to honour myself not honour others. I chose to allow the disappointment of others to be acceptable at the gain of reclaiming control and power back over my inner world.


So with clarity of thought, this last week, I chose to withdraw and go in.


I know through my daily practice that unless I could take a good handle of this inner world chaos that I was going to be a rubbish leader, an average parent, a distant lover.


I share this with you because I told my team on Monday morning that I had burnout and that I needed to retreat. After that announcement, I received two phone calls from a CFO and CEO who both were on doctor's orders to remain home and not work for two weeks. Burnout is rife and it's present at every level in corporates and in the community.


So what are we going to do about this new state of being? How do we pull ourselves out of burnout?


According to the World Health Organisation, burn out is characterised by three dimensions:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  2. Increased mental distance from ones job or feelings of negativism or cynicism

  3. Reduced professional efficacy


So, if you are suffering from any of these, give yourself permission to drop some plates. Disappoint the external world if you must and prioritise regaining mastery over your internal work. Burnout can quickly lead to other issues.


In Stone Heart Light Heart, Strengthening Stone Heart is about failure and bouncing back from failure. I believe my burnout is in some sense a personal failure. I should have known better. I am perceptive enough to have caught this. But I didn’t. So what. I kiss my wounds, I stop, heal, and move on. Stone Heart talks deeply into the notation that we cannot learn without exploring the dimensions of the dark; in particular failure. Darkness in life allows for sparks of light, this light is the new intelligence coming forward.


Since this moment, I have not only taken the time out to recover, I have also mandated it in my business, with a day off for all staff every fortnight for the next quarter. If I am burnt out, so is my team.


A great opportunity has come from this darkness. A new light.


Growth and failure are symbiotic in nature. Your ability to fail, heal, learn and grow is your Stone Heart in action.


Buy the book to explore this more.