Imagine it’s the beginning of the day, you have the whole workday ahead of you yet you already feel mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
You know you’re running on fumes because you have been putting in a lot of extra hours at work, and you are on the verge of burning out.
Worse yet, your mind has been spinning because you are not sure how much longer you can keep up this pace.
You know you need a break, but you don’t know how to take one because it feels like the world is depending on you (your team, your clients, your family, and your friends).
You have been “keeping up appearances” for months – fooling everyone but yourself.
Does this sound familiar?
Well, this is the exact scenario that unfolded during a recent conversation with a high-performing leader.
As we talked, she lacked the energy and enthusiasm that she typically exuded and her voice was slow and weary.
During our conversation, she repeated the words “I am all tapped out” several times that I eventually lost count.
I finally interrupted her sluggish flow – drawing her attention to the negative words she was using. It was a clear warning sign something was wrong.
Her words rang through me because I remember when I was in her shoes just a few years ago and I ignored all the warning signs that I was losing steam – and eventually suffered from burnout!
It’s like driving your high-performance car and the check engine light goes on.
Suppose that instead of pulling over to the side and getting roadside assistance – you just keep going.
Never in a million years would you even consider staying on the road for much longer than necessary; instead, you would most likely get to a safe place and then call for help, right?
The warning light is a sign something is wrong and you are leaking energy.
If you’re leaking energy, it can be disruptive and eventually become dangerous.
In the beginning, energy leaks can be subtle (like not getting enough sleep or not taking time for yourself), but over time if you are constantly depleted, you won’t have the energy to lead yourself or others effectively.
It’s important to be aware of your own energy levels and the impact you have on others when operating with a sub-par charge.
So, when you are leading and your warning light comes on, instead of pushing through, pull over and focus on what you need to do to recharge.