Shop Owner Burn Out vs. Flame Out
Steve came to me at the conclusion of my program, and I could tell by the look in his eyes something was wrong. He stood there pondering how he was going to say what his emotions were struggling to understand. Finally, he took a deep breath and said, “I’m tired! Oh, I don’t mean I’m physically tired. I’m the person you were describing. I’m mentally and emotionally worn out. Richard, I’ve been doing this job for sixteen years. I’m not having fun anymore. Each day I get up, head to work and feel the anger creeping in before I even get there. I want out, but this work is all I know. What am I supposed to do?”
A week later, I finished my program in Allentown and Paula approached me. “You nailed me!” were her opening words. “I sat there today and felt as if you were taking my life apart right in front of my eyes. Richard, I’m so tired! I go to work each day, go home to my family, take care of them and the house and collapse each night knowing I have to get up and do it all over again. My life seems like one giant rat race. I don’t know how much longer I can continue this. I really just want to stay home and take care of my family, but the financial strain makes that impossible. I don’t know who I am, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t like the person I met. There has got to be more to life than this rat race. Please tell me there is!”
Can you identify with either of these two people? Have you ever felt trapped in your own life? Have you ever had the urge to just chuck it all and run away? Have you ever looked at your life and felt it was going nowhere? Have you ever just sat and wondered where is all of this leading me? If you have, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Millions of people move through a day of their life with physical presence, yet have mentally and emotionally quit. They are present without a presence. I believe this feeling of “lostness” has reached epidemic proportion in our country. Millions face it each day, but don’t understand what, how, or why.
Truth: You don’t just show up one day tired and worn out. Tiredness is the result of all of the yesterdays that were filled with mental and emotional drain you chose not to face. It is the result of stress overwhelming desire and leaving you like an empty vessel with nowhere to go to refill.
BURNOUT VS. FLAMEOUT
What is happening is the process I call “Flameout.” Everywhere I turn I hear people talking about “Burnout.” Reality is you can’t burnout until you have flamed out.
Burnout is when the fire/desire for what you are doing is out. Nothing I can do – nothing you can do can rebuild the passion necessary for rekindling your inner drive. You cannot experience growth; all you can do is show up each day and exist. You’re mentally and emotionally gone. You are present without a presence!
Flameout is when the fire/desire for what you are doing is not gone; it is just not burning as brightly as it once did. The exciting part is that with the right understanding you can rekindle the passion. In Flameout you are present, but your presence has been diminished.
WHY DO PEOPLE QUIT? That question has been posed to me hundreds of times. In my research with those who were willing to face what was happening, there were common reasons I heard.
Quietly, they just gave up: This doesn’t just happen overnight. Quitting is a process that works its way through your mind and your emotions. There are three steps to Quitting: • You stop mentally searching for a way; • You emotionally stop caring; • You either pack your things and leave, or stay just as an existing presence.
Most of the time you don’t talk to people about what is happening to you. They notice the change, but when you are asked you just shrug it off. Yet, inside you are quietly giving up.
Here are some of the most common reasons I have found people go through Flameout.
You Feel Under Appreciated: I don’t know how many times I have made the statement “The #1 thing a human wants to know is that they matter.” Most people go to work each day and exchange their talents for $’s. Very seldom does anyone approach their life and thank them for their effort. Forget me long enough and I will soon believe my presence doesn’t matter. Over a period of time, this will cause you to mentally and emotionally withdraw.
Many times when I am doing a program, I will ask the audience, “How many of you were working somewhere else before you came here?” Most of the time it is several people.
This question leads to my second question, “How many of you left because you felt unappreciated or your presence wasn’t valued – I mean, you were just a person that was being used?”
You should see the hands. Too many times in Corporate America people have become just a tool to make the company money. There is very little praise – after all you are there to make money for the company. That’s your job, and you should be happy you have it. Then, we wonder what has happened to personal motivation, people feeling good about the company they work for. Where there is no praise for what you are doing or the feeling of not being appreciated, your spirit gets worn down. The result is you becoming a presence existing in an environment.
Let me introduce you to Ralph. He came to me after a program I had done. He was standing in the back of the room after everyone had left.
He came halfway down the aisle and said, “Do you have a second we could talk?”
“Sure! What’s on your mind?”
“I don’t know where to start, so let me just say what I am feeling right now. I have worked for my company for 20 years. I think I am a hard worker, loyal and have given my best, but right now I don’t want to give my best! I don’t want to go the extra mile. If management comes to me and wants me to do the extra, I tell them ‘NO!’ and that is not like me.”
There was a pause and then this sad look in his eyes. “We used to be a company that cared about their people, but those who were the caring people have either retired or been pushed out. Their replacements are people who only care about the bottom line. The caring and appreciation I felt has been replaced with the push to sell more, to push the customer. You know the statement ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’? Richard, that is the company I now work for. I don’t feel appreciated or like I’m a valuable part of the company.”
There was a pause, and then this statement, “I hate to see what was a caring company become a cold environment that uses its people. Much of my caring is gone!”
It’s Just Not Fun Anymore! Where there isn’t any fun, there is mental and emotional drain. When you stop having fun, your mind only sees the pain. Over a period of time, you will mentally and emotionally withdraw.
We talk a lot about being “motivated.” Yet, I am not sure most understand the concept of being motivated. Motivation is an emotion that needs a diet of positive energy to feed from. That diet must have passion at its center. Passion is a bubbling pool that is filled with eagerness, enthusiasm and a love for what you are doing. When these come together, they create a behavior that expresses itself through a smile, a warm feeling is generated and the expressions that say, I love what I am doing! Fun is a critical part of controlling the drain that creates the starting of Flameout.
Denise put it this way. “I left my last job because the fun was gone. I got up and dreaded going to work. The work environment was a cold environment where having a smile or laughing or just looking positive was frowned on. I took it for a while, but it came to the place where my spirit was being drained and nothing I seemed to do could replenish what I was losing. I had to get out.”
Having fun is not going to work to play; it is having an environment you go to because you feel your presence can make a difference.
The Emotional Drain Is Overwhelming: When you can’t see things changing, you go through emotional blindness. Your emotions can’t find any hope to feed your mind. The result is the feeling of depression and being overwhelmed. It doesn’t take long before you will mentally and emotionally withdraw.
There are some people who enjoy an environment that is filled with negative moments. They love it, because they can hide there, complain and set fires for management to fight. The fact is, this is too many work places today.
Quality people want to be part of an environment where there is growth; there is adventure happening; there is an air of enthusiasm that brings positive momentum. When this is gone, those who are really committed to their personal growth soon find their spirit draining and make the decision they can’t stay. I want to refer you back to the article I sent you in February on Morale.
Jason, Alice, Alex and Peter said this to me in a meeting we had. They had all just left the same company for the same reason. “Richard, we just couldn’t take it anymore. We had passion, we had enthusiasm, and we were all committed to helping our company grow. It just got to the place where we were getting more and more piled on us, because we were the only ones management could count on doing it right. We got tired of being used because of our commitment. Our love and commitment was gone!”
John put it this way. “Richard, I have been doing this for 30 years. 30 YEARS! That is half of my life. I am just plain worn down, and I know it. The challenge is I don’t know what else I would do with my life. My passion is weak, my commitment is not what it used to be and I get up each day not really wanting to go to my business. My well is almost empty!”
Get the picture? If where you are is draining you, and you can’t find the energy to recharge – you are slowly moving into flameout! If this is not confronted, the result will be you burned out.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HANDLE FLAMEOUT AND STOP IT FROM BECOMING BURNOUT?
How do you get yourself back on track? You can turn this whole thing around if you understand the process.
Talk Openly and Honestly With Yourself! You can’t solve anything by denying it is happening. Getting better, getting back on track begins with you facing your life honestly. Only then can your mind start the process.
Refuse To Make or Accept Excuses About Yourself! Excuses give you permission to stay where you are. They become the justification you use for not being honest. When you deny yourself the excuse, you focus on what needs to be done to turn this around.
Adjust Your Mental Diet! The only definition to truth your mind has is what you feed it. When your mental diet is all negative, your mind feeds your emotions negative information, which brings out your negative feelings. You must change your mental diet!
Clarify Your Emotions! This is critical. You are more emotional than you are logical. Your emotions control so much of your sight. Don’t deny the feelings you are having. Admit and face them. Only through doing this will your mind feel you are serious about getting through this.
Keep Responding At A Controlled Pace! The faster you move, the bigger the problem becomes. Slow down! Only then can you deal with Flameout.
BIO As one of America’s top personal development speakers and coaches, Richard Flint speaks over 175 times per year in the areas of Leadership, Sales, Customer Care and Self Development. Richard has been successfully mentoring and quietly helping professional organizations, large and small businesses and individuals for over 30 years.
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