Losing Functionality: The Signs of Burnout

burnout coverOver recent weeks my wife and I have been trying to sell our house. In an effort to have it sell faster, we purchased a dozen of these air-freshener warmer devices that you plug into your wall. If you haven’t used one, the way it works is that you plug it in and slide a glass jar of freshener into the warmer and set the dial to the level of scent that you want (from low to high). After two days of having the fresheners plugged in, I noticed that the smell wasn’t as tropical as it once was. I checked each one and all seemed to be okay. I left the fresheners plugged in for another week until I realized that there was no longer a divine smell of the tropics in the house. Upon inspection, I noticed that the glass bottles were completely empty and needed to be replaced. I had the fresheners on full blast, causing each one to deplete faster than I anticipated.

What is the purpose of that story? I got to thinking about how I walked by those air fresheners at least 100 times over the week and assumed the devices were working because each one looked the part. The fresheners were plugged in, turned on, and in the right places as they should have been. Sometimes in life we can be a lot like these air fresheners in the sense that we can become complacent and look the part, but really be empty and burnt out.

The air fresheners really looked the part, but were not functioning for the purpose for which the devices existed. Part of the reason was because the air fresheners were set to full blast and not paced in a better way. How often have you entered into a job, project, or opportunity where you really “burned the candle at both ends” to quickly find yourself exhausted and worn out?

Julie Young, former president and CEO of FLVS, always sent out a lengthy letter each year to all staff members at FLVS. The purpose of the letter was to ask each individual employee to meditate on the mission, vision, and purpose of FLVS. From there, employees were to sit with their respective families to review these same things. Finally, employees were asked to re-commit to the organization as a family, knowing the expectations. I loved these letters because it gave me a chance to really evaluate if I was continuing to be effective in my current role and in the organization. I found myself evaluating all the things I involved myself in to determine what aligned best with my personal vision and mission and I removed myself from commitments in which I was burnt out.

Had I stopped and really evaluated the air fresheners earlier, I could have realized that the fresheners were pumping too hard, and made adjustments to make each one last longer. What in your life can you adjust to reduce your chance of burnout?

Post by Shawn Wigg, Former Lead Teacher and 2014 FLVS Teacher of the Year

One comment on “Losing Functionality: The Signs of Burnout

  1. Julie Young

    I so enjoy reading your blogs and how you frame up your thinking. Your message is timely for all educators this time of year. I’m thinking of Jessica at the moment. With Smiles, Julie


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