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!”® 

Grow Where You’re Planted

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

I often find myself caught in the paradox of patience versus action. On one hand, patience is often the key to breakthrough insights and aids coaching clients in their life/career transformations. When working with others it is easy to see how slowing down helps them to explore the nuances of their interpersonal relationships and life aspirations. Change takes time. On the other hand, I can be really impatient with myself. When I set a goal, I am itching to act. I want to do more in less time.

My recent book, 35 Truths, took much longer than I thought. 35 perspectives – what’s the big deal? I live and breathe this stuff; I can whip the book out over a long weekend! 18 months later, it was done and I couldn’t be more proud.

Recently, I was juggling several demanding projects and I found myself growing frustrated with the time/action paradox of my own making. During a trip to visit our West Coast family, I walked along a path in the bamboo forest in Huntington Botanical Gardens. The bamboo grove towers 70 feet into the sky, blocking out the afternoon sun.


While I was there, I learned that some bamboo varietals often take 5 years or more after planting before above-ground growth appears. Before the plant can shoot skyward it must develop a significant root structure to support its pending massive growth spurt of more than 7 feet per year. That day I slowed down – and in the quiet, still space of the bamboo forest, I remembered that many things in life take time to develop and we can’t always rush that growth.

This type of slow but steady growth may resonate with you; nurturing and achieving mastery is more than merely putting in the time. Rather, you get to create your own significant root structure – by exploring, experimenting, examining, and evaluating.

How to start? Take a deep breath and lighten up. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate the patience of waiting for growth over time. When it does come, you’ll appreciate it much more. Indeed, your performance or career breakthroughs may not occur in years one, two, or three. Your massive epiphanies and peak performance may be in your fifth year. Slow down to soak up profound learnings, whenever they may be, so you may grow ever stronger and contribute more significantly to those around you. Best wishes for your root structure!

The “What If?” Game

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

iStock_000020802379_MediumHave you ever found yourself lamenting missed opportunities? When most people experience a crisis in their personal or professional lives they often further beat themselves up by using language that highlights disappointing, unrealized goals: What if…I had a better relationship with my boss?  I would have gotten the promotion.  Or, What if…I had gotten my MBA/PHD? I would have had an envious career.

I’ve found that when we get entangled in our disempowering beliefs the What If? Game creeps in to every aspect of our lives—feeding our insecurities and fears.  The irony is that the time when people need to be the most confident is often the time when they feel the least courageous.

We have constructed a simple formula that enables people to take their power back:

  • Listen to the language you are using.
  • Determine if it’s empowering and motivating or not.
  • Concentrate on the things you can influence.
  • Visualize a successful outcome.
  • If you are engaged in disempowering thinking/language, immediately shift your focus to positive opportunities, thus putting yourself back in charge, not your “runaway mind.”

What if…I had a better relationship with my boss?

Becomes – What does my boss need and want from me? What would the impact be if I identified areas (and strategies) where I can contribute more?  How can I operate differently to generate even greater support and endorsement?  What if…I asked others for feedback as to how I could more effectively partner with them?

What if…I had gotten my MBA/PHD?

Becomes – What if I fully accessed my current talents, skills, abilities, and experiences?  What’s holding me back?  Where can I go from here?

When you focus on what you are grateful for and what you have, versus wishing your life were different, you open the doors to becoming more of the person you dreamed you could be.

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” Henry David Thoreau.

What is the one thing you could do this next week that would unlock more of your potential?

Through Our Own Lens

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

The other day my wife Carolyn and I were having breakfast on a sweeping veranda at a lovely B&B. We were seated near a table of four individuals that were having less of a discussion, and more of a “mini-lecture.” One person would speak at the group, then another would one-up that comment with another “mini-lecture.” The “I know more than you” game circled the table twice before we got our breakfast.

I found myself growing more and more annoyed. I mean, really, if you are going to be with others, why not be engaged?

To me, there was no passion – no questions asked, no affirmation or acknowledgements, no follow-up to deepen the knowledge or to broaden the learning. I found the interchanges were stilted and lifeless, and more than a little tragic.

In the midst of sharing this observation with Carolyn I felt my own twinge of superiority in Businesswoman Looking Through Binoculars - Isolatedmy judgment of them. To me, through my lens of what constitutes a meaningful gathering, such a breakfast conversation would look and feel completely different.

However, I was not at their table—they might find their conversation to be perfectly acceptable. I have an outsider lens. I was amazed how quickly I rushed to judgment.

I encourage you, too, to note the biases of the lens through which you view the world and how it affects your everyday life moments.

Par Golf, Anyone?


Clyde C. Lowstuter
CEO  Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Master Certified Coach (MCC)


I can teach you how to play par golf in minutes.

par-golf-photo-11Actually, shooting par is pretty straightforward.  On a par-4 hole, you get on the green in two and putt out in two.  On a par-5 hole, you get on in three and have a two-putt. Simply put, if you continue this process for all 18 holes, you will – I guarantee – shoot par.  Playing par golf is simple; it’s just not easy.  Therein, lies the rub.  While I shared with you the what of shooting par, I did not help you with how you are going to accomplish such a daunting task.

Myth and Reality – A True Tale

We run into this phenomenon all the time; dealing with the delta between the what and the how of enlightened leadership.

We were engaged by Joan* to provide Executive Coaching to Sam*, a rising star on her executive team.  Joan was lamenting that Sam, a bright, highly assertive young executive was not performing to his potential and past track record.  Additionally, it was increasingly apparent that Sam’s lack of interpersonal savvy was becoming disruptive in the organization.  Despite protests to the contrary, Joan assured us that she clearly told Sam what to do and he didn’t change.

Our experience often reveals a different reality that has the proverbial two sides.  The first dimension is that Joan thought that she was very clear about the issue and its adverse impact – and that Sam fully understood.  The reality involves one of the following possibilities:  (1) Joan might well have been talking in such a convoluted manner that the message was largely lost and not understood.  Or, (2) Joan may have “powered up” so that Sam was feeling hit over the head with a 2X4 and was scrambling to make sense of it.  As such, he couldn’t fully absorb the information if his life depended on it.  (Personally, I’ve been there; experienced that).

The second dimension is that while Joan might have clearly identified that issue – the what – Sam may not have the adaptive coping skills to appropriately change to Joan’s expectations.  That’s the “How.”  Like playing par golf, therein lies the rub.  While the gap between the concepts of what and how might seem like mere logistics to some, to others this delta can be huge.

The reality is that all of us intend to do well.  Indeed, most people know what to do (be interpersonally skilled, for instance); they just don’t know how to be so.  Without solid feedback, Sam became even more dominant and driven to achieve results no matter the cost.  In the absence of objective executive coaching, Sam was employing those skills that accelerated his advancement earlier in his career, but now were accelerating his derailment.

We taught Sam to be more assertive in managing himself, not others, while ratcheting down his power. When he minimized his domineering Command and Control leadership style and shifted to be more Collaborative and Cooperative, Sam began to bridge the gap between what he needed to learn and how to be more authentic and engaging with his team.  In the process of becoming the leader he always wanted to be, Sam discovered that his team par-golf-photo-2was much more talented than he had previously thought.  And through his turnaround, Joan felt the same about Sam.

Anyone up for a round of par golf? 

 *No real names are used to protect our client’s confidentially.