Avoid Burnout? Why yes I’d love to, what do you suggest?

Avoid Burnout? Why yes I’d love to you and I imagine we all would.

Rich Tips is a newsletter I receive, a recent issue had a wonderful succinct list ten tips to avoid burnout. Richard Male and Associates is an international non-profit consulting firm and produces a weekly newsletter targeting non-profit organization. As written these 10 tips are for Executive Directors or persons in other leadership positions, but there is wisdom in these tips that can be used by all of us. My additions are in italics.

Tips on How to Avoid Burnout

Executive directors easily get burned out. What with the conflict situations that arise between staff and board, the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from, and the general sense of stress that comes with being the leader of a non-profit — it’s no wonder executive directors lose their sanity from time to time.

This week, let’s take a look at how an executive director or other leader of a non-profit can preserve his/her sanity amidst the ups and downs of running a non-profit organization.

  1. Don’t take everything personally. For example, when you get turned down for a grant, don’t let it get you down on a personal level. Instead, learn from the experience and vow to do a better job at securing the grant next time. When you don’t get the response you immediately expect from some at work, home or play, step back and consider is the response really about you or is it more about what is going on for the other person?
  2. Stay focused on the goal and don’t get crazy dealing with the every day details of what you have to do. Keep your eye on the bigger picture.
  3. Anticipate rather than react; plan ahead. People have a tendency of driving through the rear view mirror. When you anticipate your future and plan ahead you will prevent many of the roadblocks in your path to success.
  4. Build a team. It is important to have a team of people who share the same vision and mission and are willing to take on the appropriate responsibilities and workload. This is as true for your family life, as well as, at work, in your social life, volunteer work, etc. Some times your load will be heavier than others. Sometimes you need to call in reinforcement. Sometime you need to clearly, politely call attention to an unfair or untenable imbalance. Be clear headed, calm and focused when you do.
  5. Minimize internal conflicts. I have seen very healthy people get burned out almost overnight when there was an internal conflict with the staff or board members. Bend over backwards to support your staff, make them look good, and give them credit when they earn it. It is the team — not the superstars — that will win the games. Again, this is as true for your family life, as well as, at work, in your social life, volunteer work, etc.
  6. Be proactive with your board. Your board members are critical elements in your drive toward success. Make sure you are spending adequate time with them in between board meetings. Being proactive period can do a lot to blunt the effects of stressful times, and I some cases circumvent a stressful event.
  7. Take a vacation. Make sure you take time off each year to rejuvenate yourself. This will help you deal with some of the insanity of the non-profit. Reminder folks and this is one I say all the time, ask any of my clients, colleagues, friends or family “the world will continue to rotate on its axis if you are not at the office.” Really it will. And if it won’t there are much bigger problems at hand that you can not address alone, so might as well take a breather
  8. Hire a coach to work with you to provide the emotional support that will help you succeed. A coach can help you navigate the swells in life and work, they may provide emotional support, but more importantly they will create a space to purposely reflect, support you in charting a forward route, help keep you on course, so that you may succeed.
  9. Realize that everything in NOT a crisis. Learn to differentiate between an urgent and non-urgent situation.
  10. When you feel overwhelmed, try to stay calm. If you always over-react to situations you will lose control over what you should be doing and your staff will lose confidence in your ability to deal with problems. We all get stressed out. We all get overwhelmed some times. There are numbers ways you can check and changes your reactions. Here are just a few, a coach, mentor, or counselor can help you discover and uses techniques that work for you.  Try a two part assessment, first what is really or is this really a threat and second; if it is what can I realistically do about it? Explore how mindfulness can help you be calm and present.  Breath, deeply, consciously when you feel overwhelmed.

What is your best tip for avoiding burnout?


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