It seems appropriate to write about avoiding burnout whilst working from home (sorry, ‘telecommuting’) due to a heavy cold that has now done the rounds of the office. I was reminded of the perennial subject by this extensive post by Britt Bravo, entitled Do-Gooder Burnout: How Do You Beat the Burn?. It reports that most young entrants to the third sector leave because of a) low pay and b) burnout. I think something similar could be found with social entrepreneurs (a leadership subset of those new entrants), though it might be phrased as a) no pay and b) overstretching. These relate directly to the entrepreneurial characteristics we seek in our students: risk and responsibility; on our current programmes, there are people who have given up secure jobs, and even sold homes to do what they believe in.
What this means, though, is that looking after themselves is absolutely crucial: to refer back to the leadership advice from the event last week: problems at work often relate to ones at home, and support networks are key. This is written through what SSE does like a stick of rock: indeed, the first act on joining the programme is to meet 15-20 people going through the same thing. Action learning sets, tutors and mentors all provide routes to seek support and advice as well…and the personal no less than the organisational.
Interestingly, much of Britt’s post focuses on what the individual can do in terms of direct actions (learn to say no, learn to let go, do-delegate-or-dump, etc), a lot of which is worth reading. It does also mention “intensive self-care” and encourages “nonprofit selfishness” time….but seems to miss out that developing support networks at work and home should be central for any entrepreneur. Sometimes it can seem like a mantra, but no one person (despite the ‘heroic individual’ myths) can do everything alone, nor be everything to everyone. Talk to people; share problems; eat well; turn off e-mail in the mornings; and cut down your to-do list to the three you can do today. ;0)
Now having ignored all of those, it’s back to work….