Bookmarked A vision of life beyond burnout (ABC Religion & Ethics)

The Protestant work ethic that persisted into the post-industrial era helped create the vast wealth of the very countries that are today most concerned about burnout. But it also valorised a destructive ideal of working to the point of martyrdom. To overcome burnout, we have to get rid of that ideal and create a new conception of how work fits into a life well lived.

In an excerpt from The End of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives, Jonathan Malesic suggests that the answer for burnout relates to moving dignity back to the individual rather than being dependent on work.

So many workers are at risk for burnout because the degraded reality of our jobs since the 1970s coincides with a too-lofty ideal of work. The gap between our ideals and our experience at work is too great for us to bear. That means, if we want to halt the burnout epidemic, we need to close the gap, both by improving working conditions and lowering our ideals. Because our burnout culture results as much from our ideas as from the concrete facts of our jobs, we will need different ethical and spiritual expectations for work as much as we will need better pay, schedules, and support. In fact, we will need a new set of ideals to guide us as we construct those conditions.

Referring to the work of Henry David Thoreau, Malesic talks about the importance of genius.

We have all read the standard advice on business and wellness websites for how to prevent or heal your burnout. Get more sleep. Learn to say no. Organise your tasks by urgency and importance. Meditate. These are all basically superstitions: individual, symbolic actions that are disconnected from burnout’s real causes. Our workplaces and cultural ideals contribute more to our burnout than our personal organisation methods do. Still, individuals are not powerless in the face of burnout. We do have a role to play in aligning our ideals with our reality at work. And Thoreau, the individualist who preached self-reliance, can help us identify it.

Too much work and too little autonomy contribute to burnout; Thoreau’s program limits work in order to foster self-determination. Thoreau’s individualistic streak means he undervalues community. But he wants to create conditions in which people who recognise their own dignity can follow their genius and thus perform a higher labour: to harmonise themselves with their supreme sense of value.

This reminds me of John Spencer’s discussion of personal genius hour. I am guessing this may have been the source of 20% time for companies like Google.

Malesic talks about the notion of work, what constitutes burnout and the challenge of our self-impossed penance with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens on The Minefield podcast.

Listened CM 211: Liz Wiseman on Standing Out at Work from

If someone asked what they should do to succeed in their job, you’d probably have a quick response. You might say something like, just do what you’re asked, get your work done on time, or don’t step on anyone’s toes.

But what if the question wasn’t about how to succeed, but how to stand out as the best of the best?

These are the high performers Liz Wiseman calls “impact players.” They’re the ones who leave an indelible mark on their work and the people around them. Liz spoke with nearly 200 top professionals, and she uncovered 5 behaviors that set them apart. Her findings inform her latest book, Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact.

In a conversation with Gayle Allen, Liz Wiseman talks about her new book Impact Players. According to Wiseman, impact players look to how they can make a difference, rather than just play a roll. Most people aspire to make a difference and have a contribution. She shares five characteristics of an impact player:

  • Useful – what’s important now
  • Step up and step back – leading without it being a land grab
  • Finish strong
  • Ask and adjust
  • Make work light – removing the phantom work

Allen and Wiseman discuss the questions to consider when trying to hire an impact player:

  • How do they handle messy problems?
  • Leadership problems?
  • Roadblocks?
  • Moving targets?

Wiseman explains that the book does not serve as a recipe, but rather the start of a conversation. WHat matters most is creating the right conditions.

The best leaders … create both safety and stretch.

Wiseman also discusses the current challenges of remote work. She touches on the breakdown of chains of impact, explaining that when we are apart we often fall into a habit of going from task to task.

We burnout not from too much work, but too little impact.

This all reminds me of something that David Truss recently wrote about improvising:

The world is your stage. The play is your playground. Improvise your roles as best as you can. And remember that others are improvising theirs roles too. Work with your fellow actors to create the best performance you can. But remember it’s all an act, and if you aren’t playing a role that works, change the role or change the way you act in it. All the world is an improv stage, and so you get to write the script as you go. Enjoy the performance, you only get one.

Bookmarked Stressed-out teacher? Try these self-care tips – ABC Life (

Teachers and mental health experts share their tips for ways educators can keep a balanced approach to work, and avoid emotional and physical burnout.

Grace Jennings-Edquist collates a number of self-care strategies to support teachers. This is something that I have written about in the past. I still have concerns that we are overlooking the systemic issues.