6 Signs that You’re Burned Out

Clyde C. Lowstuter

All of us are wired.  We’re synched up.  Hardwired.  Your computer, tablet, e-reader, cell phone, car, home thermostat, security system, and every electronic device that you own has an operating system. Your many OS’s need to be upgraded from time to time to maintain optimal performance.  Likewise, you also have well-developed operating systems – physiologically, behaviorally, emotionally, and psychologically – that require adjustments for you to operate smoothly, lest you get fried.

Each of us is hardwired a little differently and it requires a nuanced approach in order to live an optimal existence. It’s crucial to pay attention when you are stressed or anxious. It may be time to reflect and calibrate how you’re thinking, feeling, and behaving.

You’re Burned Out If You Are:

  1. Agitated, nervous, and exhausted most of the time.
  2. Angry toward everyone and everything and you don’t know why.
  3. Oblivious to the most obvious behavioral clues that you’re out of control.
  4. Feeling rudderless and uncertain about how to act or even what to say at times.
  5. Experiencing an undercurrent of helplessness and zero energy.
  6. Generally unproductive and lacking creativity, on or off the job.

The key to extinguishing your burnout is to immerse yourself in the core beliefs that ground you, while focusing on the underlying values that give you purpose and direction.  Scrutinize the things that have been profoundly important to you and have brought you joy and deep peace.  Maybe you need to lighten up and give yourself permission to take a break . . . or a nap. It may even be time to hang up your Super Hero cape!

To function effectively with others it is critical that you become increasingly self-aware and mindful of what you are thinking and feeling, and how you are behaving.  When I was working on my newest book 35 Truths last year I unintentionally upgraded my own OS.  While the purpose of writing the book was to identify significant learnings over R|L’s 35 years, I received much more.  After combing through years of my R|L speeches, workshops, manuals, and books, I had a huge list of important core values. When I narrowed this list to the top 35, I found myself reigniting around those values.

I felt an increased sense of being even more grounded and authentic . . . and more anchored in my beliefs.  My profound revelation was that we all need to take the time to reboot our beliefs and values.  We must take control of those dysfunctional behavior instant replays that undermine our personal power and effectiveness.  Doing so will reinvigorate our drive and solidify our ability to avoid burnout.

Best wishes for your continued success and may you always . . .
“Create Uncommon Results!”® 

Take Charge

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

Mountain ManTaking Charge of your career is the opposite of Waiting and Hoping.  Don’t assume that the skills that brought you to this juncture in your career will guarantee success in your current or future roles.  Don’t passively wait for your career to dramatically transform into something it is not now.

Someone once said, “If your ship hasn’t yet come in, swim out to it!”

If your professional relationships are not as rewarding or as powerful as you’d like, don’t immediately seek to leave your organization because you are uncomfortable; if you leave, there’s a high probability that you’ll have similar issues in a new setting.

Rather, view your current circumstances as an “executive learning laboratory” in which you seek insights and lessons en route to mastering leadership and interpersonal skills.

Use any disappointments you have as leverage to learn how to contribute even more fully and turn opponents into proponents, while you build widespread organizational endorsement.

3 Signs Your Career Is Derailing

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

Bent TrackI’m the poster boy for a derailed career path.  I discovered the hard way that people are terminated, not for the lack of competency, rather for the lack of cultural fit and personal chemistry with the immediate manager.  It took me a while (and perhaps you, as well) to eventually realize that I, alone, was accountable for my exit.  You are probably derailing if you:

1.  Lack Widespread Endorsement

You could be the most competent person in your company, but if you don’t/can’t build widespread organizational endorsement, you are at profound risk if your relationship with your boss stalls out.

TIP:  Look for ways to support/endorse your boss and other cross-functional colleagues.

2.  Deflect Accountability

Excuses don’t cut it, nor does blaming others. Many employees are emotionally devastated (enraged and/or depressed) after being involuntarily separated.  However, with a bit of probing, they admit that they were bored, disenchanted, or did not meet performance expectations or manage their relationships well enough.  Invariably, displaced individuals thought of exiting, long before they are asked to.  Nevertheless, they were usually upset that the company pulled the trigger before they did.  I know I was.

TIP:  Own your exit, regardless of how badly you feel about your circumstances.  I personally discovered that there is no power in being victim.

3.  Are Overwhelmed & Stressed Out

How you act will have a direct and profound impact on your career longevity. Career uncertainty and distress often bring out the worst in people.  If you are feeling overwhelmed and more than a little panicked, it may manifest itself as your pushing others around – being a bully.  Take a breath.  Lighten up.  Apologize for any disempowering behavior.  Visualize what success might look like.  Identify 3 positive steps you could take right now to get back on track.

TIP:  Begin to be seen as confident and competent in the manner you’d like others to believe.  Start again.

Authenticity Rocks!

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

Years ago I was zapped from a job I dearly loved, not because I was incompetent, but rather I zigged and zagged in the relationship with my boss. In the weeks that elapsed, I mastered martyrdom and was the poster boy for being a victim.  Eventually I emerged from the fog of upset with the life-changing realization that I was the author and architect of my dismissal.  Bottom line:  why should he endorse me, if I was unwilling to support and endorse him.  I operated independently and was consistently too confrontive.  Stupid, I know . . . .

Authentic Business MeetingClearly, I had not been operating authentically by blaming my boss.  However, once I assumed total accountability for my derailment, my life and career trajectory took off.  I discovered that authenticity is the single most important determinant for personal and leadership success.  Authentic individuals are open, congruent, transparent, and fully expressed, while taking complete responsibility for their impact, intended or unintended.  I clearly learned this profound truth the hard way.

From that moment to today, my life’s (and firm’s) mission has been to introduce the power of living an authentic life in organizations, globally.  So, I ask you:

  • What are the PROS and CONS of your behaving authentically?
  • How might being authentic lead to enhanced trust in all your relationships?
  • How can you be more authentic, more of the time?
  • What might the positive P&L impact be if you operated fully authentically?

Take Charge of Your Career & Life, Part II

Clyde C. Lowstuter
President & CEO, Robertson Lowstuter

In Part I, we explored the signs that a career is derailing.  If this is the case for you, what can be done to regain control?  The following 10 steps are a place to start.

1.  Take Complete Responsibility for Your . . . Career.   Don’t seek nor expect others to advance your career.   It’s your responsibility, your challenge, your joy.  Note what is working well and what is not.  Fine-tune your career focus, leverage your talents, and get energized.  Employ the adage, “If it is to be, it’s up to me!”

2.  Conduct an Inventory.  Objectively assess your success in light of the vision you have for your career against the role you currently occupy, the results you’ve achieved, your compensation, your contributions, and your level of satisfaction.

3. Calibrate Reality by Securing Feedback.  Ask confident and successful colleagues to candidly comment on how they see your contributions against your current role, leadership capabilities, and interpersonal skills.  Use this feedback as a reality check to calibrate what you can modify to improve your overall effectiveness.

4.  Build Your Brand.  Simply put, who you are is your brand.  Your brand is a compilation of your talents, skills, abilities, track record of accomplishments, behavior, and attitude.   Assess how you are currently perceived, determine the impact of your brand, and commit to continually improving your image, talents, and skills.

5.  Envision Your Future Career State.  Imagine yourself in your career 10 years in the future.  Imagine yourself being happy, successful, financially set, and having quality, meaningful working relationships with your colleagues who admire and respect you.  When you envision this future state what images, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors come to mind?  Ask yourself:  what role do I occupy?  What are my primary responsibilities?  What is my total compensation? What additional skills am I presently enhancing?

What’s the Delta?  Assess gaps in: role, responsibilities, reporting relationship, staff, professional/personal skills, relationships, and results achieved, passions, and most importantly, career/job satisfaction.

Closing the Gaps.  Observe what other capable leaders do.  Experiment and fine-tune your own thoughts, feelings, and behavior until you are able to consistently replicate your successes.  What can you do right now to begin to close these gaps and get on the right track, taking control of your career and your life?  In 48 hours?  In 30 days?  In 6 months?  In 12 months?

6.  Develop and Execute Strategies to Enhance Your Career.  Identify your short / long-term career and leadership mastery goals.  Outline major milestones and conduct a S.W.A.T. analysis highlighting roadblocks, accelerants, P&L impact, and specific accountabilities.

7.  Commit to Your Success.  Tell others of your commitments.  Your word is your pledge.  It is a declaration of what you promise you’ll deliver.  You are bound to your commitment.   Be reliable.  Be trustworthy.

8.  Gain Leverage on Your Commitment to Change.  Ask Yourself: What has worked in the past?  What will work now?  What will my career and life be like if I don’t achieve my (career, financial, relationship, and health) goals?  In 1 year?  In 5 years?  What will my career and life be like if I do achieve my (career, financial, relationship, and health) goals?  In 1 year?  In 5 years?

Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs, is people who have come alive.          Howard Thurman

9.  Objectively Evaluate Your Progress.  Assess how well you are progressing on a monthly basis.  Keep your “report card” simple:  identify the 5 most important career elements and grade yourself against a simple criteria (↑  means I’m ahead of my plans and exceeding my expectations; ↓ means I’m falling behind in my skill advancement;  and ↔ means I’m in neutral – somewhat stuck in my learning and results achieved.)  Use your grade to pinpoint areas for targeted development.

10. Create an Advisory Group.  Enlist 2-3 executives to help you in advancing your career and leadership skills.  It is very empowering to ask for and receive candid advice regarding significant career milestones.  Quite frankly, others will see things you don’t see.  The role of your Advisory Group is to:  (1) provide feedback to you on issues you may not fully be aware of; (2) challenge you to stretch and grow in your thinking and behavior; and (3) be a  sounding board against which you can safely “think out loud.”

Best wishes in your career success!