Would You Rather Be Drained Or Tired?
Would you rather be drained or tired? Which one describes you more of the time?
Unlike being tired, being drained doesn’t go away with rest and refueling. Unlike being tired, when you are drained you have nothing to show for your efforts. Unlike being tired, drained doesn’t “hurt so good.”
In 2020 we have supported and learned from hundreds of leaders who are finding themselves drained more often than they used to be. This is a recipe for burnout.
And there’s a way through that helps reverse the drain.
I first published this article before Covid hit, and as I reflect on it, I realize the message is even more relevant now. Here’s an updated version with commentary on how leaders deal with crisis.
Being drained is perpetuated by three myths.
The Myth: Don’t make waves, don’t speak up, and avoid conflict because silence is a small price to pay to keep people happy. During crisis, just hunker down and don’t complain. Others probably have it worse.
The Drain: Energy wasted on things you can’t control while neglecting your own boundaries and needs.
The Compassionate Solution: Be Open. Share your real feelings without blaming anyone. It’s OK to own your stuff because you are worth it. You will be tired, but you will have self-respect.
The Myth: Give advice, fix problems, and show your expertise because we need to save people from their struggles. During crisis, leaders need to have the answers and be on top of things.
The Drain: Energy is wasted on non-consensual helping which invites dependence and resentment, so you end up doing other people’s work for them. It’s a vicious cycle.
The Compassionate Solution: Be Resourceful. Get curious and meet people there they are at. Ask permission to help and treat people like they are capable. You will be tired from resisting your urge to help, and your people will begin solving their own problems.
The Myth: It’s okay to be the bad guy. Strength equals respect. Strong arm people if necessary because it’s your duty to get things done no matter what. During crisis sometimes you just need to bring the hammer down to push through.
The Drain: Everything becomes a battle and collateral damage is the norm. Now everyone is drained.
The Compassionate Solution: Be Persistent. Communicate what’s important. Be a role-model and ask people to step up. Follow through on commitments and consequences with dignity and respect. You will be tired and you will experience more ownership and loyalty.
Drained leaders spin their wheels and never recover. Tired leaders get results and sleep great. When you replace the drain of myths with compassion, it hurts so good.