It takes courage to confront burnout. It takes courage to acknowledge that you’re in it and to confront the factors that are keeping you in it. If you’re in burnout, finding or creating the courage to confront it may seem impossible, but it isn’t. Creating the courage to confront burnout is not only possible for anyone but it’s possible for you.
There is some confusion about what courage even is. Many folks believe that courage is the absence of fear. However, nothing is further from the truth. If there is no fear, there’s no need for courage. Courage shows its power only when it conquers fear. So, courage is going forward not without fear but despite fear.
Knowing that you don’t have to eliminate fear to be courageous is the first step in being able to take the steps necessary to confront and ultimately conquer burnout.
The challenging part isn’t that courage can overcome the confines of burnout, it’s realizing what the burnout is being caused by and where the courage is needed. Like anything else, there is a source to burnout. When we realize burnout is caused by our belief that we can’t be effective, we can look to those places where we feel the most ineffective.
Whether it’s a relationship with our parents or peers that we don’t feel is right or a recognition that we feel we deserve in the form of a promotion, there is almost always at least one specific cause of burnout that can be tackled. So, the courage we need isn’t to say some magical, anti-burnout chant. The courage we need is to break through some barrier that we feel exists in our world and in our capabilities.
It seems silly now, but in early 1954, everyone believed that no human could possibly run a mile in less than 4 minutes. There were many who had tried, but in the eight years since someone ran their 4:01 time, no one could best the record. Somehow, everyone had become convinced that a man who ran a mile in less than four minutes would keel over dead. That is, until one man did it, Roger Bannister, and then he was followed by dozens more. All it took was for one man to run the mile in less than four minutes and then suddenly (in evolutionary terms) everyone was doing it.
What happened was an invisible wall. It was a wall that prevented runners from breaking the 4:01 record for just shy of a decade. It wasn’t a result of human physiology but instead a result of human psychology.
With courage at the ready, we escape burnout by finding those hidden barriers that we don’t even realize are there. With friends, we ping ideas about how to get unstuck and how to use our courage to demonstrate our efficacy. Our friends may even respond with ideas that would have never occurred to us alone, creating the opportunity for us to step into that space and attempt ideas we would have never thought of.
When we leverage others’ perspectives, we can sometimes get a different sounding of the hidden barriers that are blocking us. Then all we need to do is apply our courage in that direction to push through the wall that we didn’t realize was blocking us. Eventually, with enough attempts, we’ll find a way to move forward instead of feeling stuck in burnout.