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What I've Learned From The Last Three Weeks

burnout wellbeing Sep 09, 2022

I’m reflecting over the last 3 weeks that I took off. I do deep reflections at the beginning of every calendar year, then again around March, then September and I look at goals, what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, what I’m learning, where I want to be. But these last 3 weeks I’ve had some unexpected lessons. 

Let’s rewind to just over 3 weeks ago; I was looking forward to some downtime. I was thinking about taking time off social media and was in need of a digital detox. That was confirmed whilst I was scrolling through LinkedIn and seeing what only can be described as vileness. If you’re on LinkedIn I doubt you would have missed it, but there was this whole thing of the crying CEO. 

The CEO of HyperSocial posted a selfie of himself crying, talking about how he had to let some of his team go. I’d seen the original post and personally I wouldn’t have gone for the crying selfie, but actually what I took from it was that he had to make a very hard decision. This was because back in February he screwed up and made wrong decisions relating to the business, resulting in people losing their jobs. To me this post was him owning up to his mistakes. 

However, what came next was a lot of piss taking, people taking their own ‘crying selfies’ and accusing him of attention seeking. The bullying, the hatred, the name calling just confirmed that I needed to take time off social media. It also highlighted to me that a lot of the stuff I was seeing was repetitieve, with everyone talking about the same thing. In some cases people were taking other people's content and copy and pasting them as their own. This bullying and repetitive nature was really getting to me. 

Digital detox for 3 weeks it was!

I switched off my socials and a few days later I was catching up on a few bits and ended up back on LinkedIn where I was really inspired by the first couple of posts I saw. One was from Claude Silver who is the Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia (she’s an amazing human being) Another post was from a woman called Melanie who was asking for support with a raffle to support mental health charities. So I commented on both of those and then thought shit, I’m supposed to be detoxing. 

I realised then that it wasn’t the platform, it was the energy I was picking up from the platform that was causing me to have an issue. If we take the crying CEO post as an example; a lot of the hatred for him was like emotional fatigue from people. The last couple of years have been extremely difficult and it’s taken its toll. So when we see someone being vulnerable, whilst owning up to their mistakes and putting themselves out there, it’s triggering something else. 

I’ve learnt that how we react to things is how we are feeling. That post shouldn’t have triggered as much hate as it did, but it’s a reflection on how so many of us are feeling. We are either feeling that we are unable to be vulnerable and therefore criticising those that do, or we are unable to own our own mistakes, or we are unable to recognise the other things in ourselves. 

In reflecting on this and thinking about why LinkedIn is starting to grind on me, I realised just how important it is to meet people where they are. I’ve seen lots of posts about performance appraisals and spent much of my HR career talking about these. I haven’t done performance appraisals since 2008 and even then I believed they were outdated. 

I’ve seen a lot of talk about 4-day working and I implemented that in my previous consultancy in 2019, and yet some people are just having the conversation now. 

I’ve been seeing more people discuss and talk about burnout. What frustrates me with many of those posts is not the talk of burnout, but they are assuming a bit of fatigue or exhaustion is burnout, when actually it’s chronic stress. Burnout has become the buzzword to promote financial services, customer services, to promote a new system, VA service etc. The word is being used and they don’t really know what it is. I burnt out in 2013 when we didn’t really know what it was. 

Core-led leadership is something I’ve talked about for 10 years and other people are just starting to catch up with that. 

So I was an early adopter for all these things and I’m proud of that (apart from actually getting burnt out). The fact I’ve done things years before others, doesn’t devalue the comments and topics people are coming up with now, it just means I’m in a different place. It also means I can add value and a difference to those conversations, but if I want to be involved in those conversations, I’ve got to do so without being frustrated that we are still talking about this now. 

My reflection is to meet people where they are. More empathy, more compassion. More understanding. 

So in the conversations you’re having with clients, team members, customers, parents, friends; it’s ok for us to acknowledge that we are either all on this path together, or some have simply moved on. 

I’ve seen the terms ‘the great resignation’ ‘quiet quitting’ and at the beginning of 2020 I saw that the great resignation was coming for organisations that weren’t looking after their people. I started talking about how more than ever, people will be setting greater boundaries between work and life. This has now been termed as quiet quitting. 

We are all talking about the same thing, but in a slightly different way. 

Some see it as a negative and some as a positive. 

I see it as a big positive change. 

People who see quiet quitting as a negative, it’s because they feel unable to create and assert boundaries for themselves. Or feel they will be seen as not committed or engaged enough. So there’s a fear element to that. If we keep talking about this subject we can eliminate the fear and highlight the importance of setting boundaries between work and home. 

Going back to my reflections; in the winter months I use a Lumie lamp, where you set the time and it wakes you up with light in the morning. Of course in the summer when it’s already light, I don’t need the lamp, but I still struggle to wake up. So over recent months I’ve instead taken my phone up to bed and used my phone as my alarm clock. But because my phone was in my hand first thing, I would then start to scroll. 

I was starting my day looking at some of the stuff that was pissing me off. I didn’t realise straight away that I had fallen into that trap. But during my few weeks off I didn’t really need to wake up early and didn’t set an alarm, I was then starting my day in a completely different way. So I’ve bought a new alarm clock. A tiny, simple wooden alarm clock and the difference in how I start my day and how I feel, has been phenomenal. 

So I’ve been reflecting on where I give my energy, my attention and how I feel. 

I see a cranial osteopath and she talks to your body and can see where you have issues. I went to see her during my first week off and she said my body just needs rest and gave me permission to do so. I knew I needed it, but I also knew that there was stuff I needed to do around the house, prepare and go on a holiday and still fit in rest time for myself. During the first week there was still something stopping me from resting.

I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to during those 3 weeks off, because the priority had to be taking time out and spending time with my family. My holiday on a boat has given me a very different outlook and pace. There’s something just so serene and peaceful about floating along the Norfolk Broads and just being in the moment and not being in a rush. Again I know all of this stuff and you know this too, but we get so caught up on being busy.

On reflection I want to create my own rules.

With social media apparently you ‘should’ post x amount of times a day, use hashtags but only a certain amount, post at specific times of the day etc. All of this is affecting my creativity and restricting me. 

I’ve never been a rule follower. I’ve always been an early adopter and done things my way and it’s that, that has helped me achieve the level of success in my career. 

I’m done with following rules and I want to work with the early adopters and who are ready for something different, even if they don’t know what it is. 

I’m going back to creating my own pace and doing things my way!

This is what I help all my clients and listeners with. It’s the reflection time, the lightbulb moments, the clarity. 

I invite all of you over the next few months as we close off 2022 to consider where you are allowing yourself to be boxed in, all because you are trying to follow someone else's rules. 

Let’s rip up the bloody rulebook. 

Be our core-led selves unapologetically. 

Not get sucked into all the drama and draining stuff going on around us. 

Recognising we are in a different place to others. 

Be the trailblazers we want to be. 

Get the fire back in our bellies. 

This is a core-led woman revolution. 

Then say I am no longer going to follow your rules and play your game. I’m paving my own path, my own way. 

Here’s a quick reminder that core led women do 3 things:

  • They know who they are deeply at the core
  • They set and maintain boundaries 
  • They take time for themselves 

In doing these 3 things they are empowered individuals and they empower those around them. Core- led women role model empowerment for themselves and others. In doing this we can change the world and the world of work. 

In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family. Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful. Today at, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.

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