Knowing the difference will change your life!
Try this on and see if it fits. Do you have a hard time focusing—or are you putting less energy into focusing? How about: Trouble sleeping? Decreased motivation? Tired more often than feeling rested? Do you feel that there are just too many things for you to get done—no matter how long or hard you work—you never seem to get ahead?
Symptoms of burn-out include a dysfunctional attitude towards work, feeling less motivated, and a general apathy towards the job as a whole.
I have worked with too many senior leaders over the years to not recognize it: burn-out. Unfortunately, it has defined many leaders over the years, and I have seen enough successes and failures to know that this is a real problem.
It is only recently that my thinking around this began to expand and I noticed something very important: Many people who experienced these symptoms were NOT burned-out, they were actually bored-out. Somewhere along the way (I have noticed) people often hit a wall. It is then, at that point of deep reflection when they ask themselves, “Can I do this any longer?” I especially see this when an individual crosses that threshold of where they have created something that they then have to manage on a day-to-day basis. Boredom invariably follows.
This theory was first expounded in 2007, in Diagnose Boreout, a book by Philippe Rothlin and Peter R. Werder. They found that the absence of meaningful work is for many individuals the chief problem.
Boredom expert Dr. Sandi Mann says workplace boredom is a growing problem and a “significant source of stress” for many people.
On the flip-side, when people find themselves in a new role, or new job—working just as hard and as long—the symptoms start to subside! What gives?! My guess is that they were suffering from being bored-out. I now see it and I am able to name it. And, it has made a tremendous difference in how I work with executives and leadership teams.
Last week I floated this idea to a c-level networking group. It resonated right away! When does experience become a burden? We all want opportunities for new learning, continued professional and personal growth, and knowing that we are making a difference. When we feel this does not exist in our current situation we no longer feel challenged, and therefore miss the opportunity to be our best self at work. Surprisingly, it usually happens after a major success has taken place.
Here are four suggestions to identify and defeat a bored-out situation:
- Challenge your assumptions. Being open minded can help to determine what is really happening here. As clearly as you can, write down in one or two sentences what you believe the big issue is. The purpose is to identify and articulate what you are trying to solve.
- Create a list of wins and what you felt most excited about and challenged by at work. Did you deliver a big win that made a difference for your organization? Or, was it something outside of work that was impacted?
- What are the TWO things you are most passionate about? It doesn’t have to be just one thing! Now, can you combine them to create something new in your life? Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most passionate CEOs I have come across. In motivating business people today, he nails it for me. Check out his blog post: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/askgaryvee-episode-113-do-you-have-to-choose-between-two-passions/
- Now, declare it! Admit you are bored and you need a new challenge. It is time to pivot. Pick a mentor or close friend to hold you accountable and to help facilitate creating your own personal growth plan. This plan should have three important elements: The Situation, The Action, The Impact.
Address bored-out and grow that list of wins!