Master the Art of Saying NO — Every time you say yes when you really want to say no, you take yourself further away from your goal of success. You have the power to decide where your focus and energy go so start getting rid of everything that’s dragging you down. Let go of everything that you are doing to meet other people’s demands and expectations. When you let some of those things go, you’ll have more time for the important things in your life, like your family, health, relationships, and most importantly, yourself.
Millions of Americans are returning back to work after being home during the pandemic. While this has been exciting for many, some are feeling burned out by their work. What do you do if you are feeling burned out by your work? How do you reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back”? What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
In this interview series called “Beating Burnout: 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout,” we are talking to successful business leaders, HR leaders and mental health leaders who can share insights from their experience about how we can “Beat Burnout.”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eva Medilek.
Eva Medilek is a Certified High-Performance Coach, International Speaker, Author, and Cultural Inclusivity Trainer. She has worked with men and women in the areas of personal development, leadership, mastering habits for success and inclusive intelligence.
She specializes in helping busy professionals have more money, time, and success without sacrificing health, well-being, and relationships in the process.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Of course! I grew up in New Jersey as the only child of a police officer dad and a homemaker mother. What stands out to me now is how I grew up in the 1960s, during the height of the civil rights movement. My parents worked hard to shield me from racism and keep me safe so they sent me to private schools, where I was often the only Black child in class or one of a handful of Black children in the entire school.
My dad worked two jobs so that I could attend these private schools from kindergarten through high school. He was often too exhausted and unavailable to spend any significant amount of time with me. I remember longing to have more quality time with him and being told by my mother to ‘let your father sleep, and don’t bother your father’, because he was always tired and working hard to give us a certain lifestyle.
When my mother started working, she worked nights too and was often asleep during the day. That left me to entertain myself with my dolls and games all alone. We never had time to take vacations or do much together as a family because of their work schedules. I never took any dance classes or learned how to ride a bike because my parents never had time for me. Although I know they were doing it all for me, I still resented the fact that I didn’t get much of them or normal kid activities growing up.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I began my career as a dental hygienist. My father was friends with our family dentist and I got my first job in his dental office while I was in high school. I became friendly with the hygienist in the office and decided that I would become a hygienist too. Mainly because I could work part-time and raise a family in this profession.
After 30+ years as a hygienist, and raising two daughters, I was downsized from my job on my 50th birthday. As devastating as that was, I realized that this was the kick in the pants I needed to become an entrepreneur and live the freedom lifestyle that I always dreamed about.
While trying to figure out what to do next, I read the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and was inspired to start investing in Real Estate as a means to create passive streams of income and financial freedom. Although I was still working as a dental hygienist, I was able to build a successful real estate investment business at the same time.
This is when I started to work day and night and not have time for my family or myself and experience the effects of burnout. My health, well-being, and relationships were all beginning to implode and I was in danger of losing everything that mattered to me. When I discovered that my husband had been unfaithful, I knew that I had to own my part in the breakdown of our marriage. So, I began my journey of personal development and leadership to save myself and my marriage.
After experiencing the healing in my relationship and the success of my business, I knew that I could help other driven, busy professionals to advance their careers and achieve success without sacrificing their personal fulfillment in the process.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
There were so many, where do I begin? When I was building the real estate business, I got training and hired coaches and mentors so that I didn’t have to make too many mistakes along the way. Hey, I was already in my 50’s so I knew I didn’t have the luxury of time to make the same mistakes you make when in your 20’s and 30’s.
While on the path to personal development, emotional intelligence, and leadership, I had the privilege of being in an amazing community of leaders who were on the same path and supported me along the way. There were several coaches that I have worked with that showed me, not only how to have a successful business, but how to generate and protect my energy so that I could create both/and’s in my life and business. Meaning that I didn’t have to sacrifice what I valued the most to be successful. I didn’t have to choose between success in business and a happy, healthy personal life.
I learned the habits that I needed to practice consistently so that I could have a healthy life full of positive emotions and relationships while advancing my career. I count Brendon Burchard, author of The High-Performance Habits, as one of my impactful mentors. So much so that I became a Certified High-Performance Coach to be trained personally by him.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. When I was coaching a client through my signature 2-hour process, I was recording it over Zoom. At one point, the client became very emotional and was crying quite a bit and their nose was running a lot. I got a bit squeamish watching it and when they left to clean up, I still had the recording on when I made a sick face. When the client asked for a copy of the video, I watched it back and the look I had on my face was embarrassing. I did not want them to see that. It took my husband and me 3 full days to figure out how to cut that part out of a zoom recording before sending it to the client.
The lesson learned is to stop making faces, which is my go-to way of expression but does not look good on Zoom, and to pause the recording when folks leave for a moment. I’m extremely mindful of my Zoom etiquette now because what works in person doesn’t work the same virtually. It’s a lesson that will benefit me in so many ways now that most things are done virtually now. I’m very mindful of my face and facial expressions from that lesson.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite life lesson quote comes from the author of “You Are A Badass”, Jen Sincero. “Time comes to those who make it, not to those who try to find it.” This resonates so much with me because how we spend our time, money and energy is a direct reflection of our priorities and values. We all have the same number of hours in the day and we control how we spend them. I was spending a lot of time building my business and not much time nurturing my relationship and it cost me dearly.
Time is not a renewable resource. Real gratitude for life shows up in how we manage our time. So instead of saying “I don’t have time for that”, I now say, “that’s not a priority for me at this time”. There is a very different energy in those two statements. Saying it that way will cause you to pause and evaluate your priorities when you are choosing how to spend your time.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Right now I’m working on a program that will focus on helping leaders and teams build high-performance habits for success and inclusive consciousness. For many years the focus has been on personal development and emotional intelligence. Now, we need to be conscious of our intelligence around cultural inclusivity as well. I believe that we can all be high-performers. But to truly be a high-performer, we will need to incorporate a deeper level of inclusive intelligence at home, at work, and in our communities. I wrote my book The Intimacy of Race so that the allies of minoritized communities would have a resource to get started that was simple and sustainable.
My program is building expertise in leaders and teams so that they can go beyond performative knowledge and training to develop the skills and habits necessary to integrate that knowledge in real life so that they can have a consistent, sustainable impact. It’s designed to help people develop clarity of focus, mental energy, physical stamina, and the courage needed to take bold action so that they can increase their influence and impact in every area of their lives. I’m committed to helping more people learn the skills that will bring us closer together in our personal and professional lives.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
This is a great question. I actually say the three character traits that I live by in the shower, daily, to set my intention for the day. I feel that living by these three words has set me up for success in my personal and professional life.
- OPEN — I intend to be open to opportunities and possibilities as a way of being. I could share the story of how being open to a blind date with my husband’s best friend, set me up to meet him but I’ll share a business-related story for this interview.
At the very beginning of my speaking career, I was presented with the opportunity to speak on the stage in London, England. I had never spoken internationally before and felt that I wasn’t a very good speaker. The event was 2 weeks away and I needed to prepare three talks for the three days. On the surface, it felt too fast, too soon, and too much. Then I remembered my 3 words and a Richard Branson quote that I love “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later!”
That was it, challenge accepted. I was going to be open to the opportunity and that experience jumpstarted my speaking career and elevated it to the next level.
- CONNECTED — Connection is currency. When I started my real estate investing career, I went to see a house that was advertised on Craigslist. When we arrived, several other investors were looking at the property and they all wanted it. I noticed that the investor that was selling the property had blood coming out of his mouth. When I inquired about it, he shared that he had just had dental implant surgery. It was an opportunity to connect with him via my knowledge as a dental hygienist and I gave him some tips on how he could speed up the healing.
Well, when we drove back from seeing the property, he called me and said that he liked us the best and decided that he wanted to sell the property to us. That was our first deal and it netted us a hefty profit when we were finished. We also developed a friendship with the investor that has him call us first when he has a deal that he thinks we would want. We’ve done several deals with him and made lots of profit in real estate because of the initial connection.
- GENEROUS — I grew up with depression-era parents so scarcity and hoarding were things that I witnessed my entire life. Learning how to live in a mindset of abundance and generosity has contributed to my success. I recite an abundance mantra daily as well to remind me that money loves speed and movement and I look for ways to practice generosity in my daily life.
One of the most powerful ways that I practice generosity is in listening and in communication. Being a generous listener has made my communication much more effective and created even more connected relationships in my life. Part of this involves listening for understanding without the need to respond or defend.
When I was training for an endurance challenge, it involved me waking early and getting in the required workouts before work and travel. One day I heard my husband talking about my training with a friend of his and calling me crazy for waking up early and doing my work-outs. Ouch, that hurt. My instinct was to be upset and confront him about it. But I had the conversation from the perspective of generosity. I told him that I heard what he said and I felt hurt when he said it. However, I prefaced it with, ‘I know that you love me and would never hurt me intentionally, but when I heard you say that I was crazy, it hurt.’ The next time he talked about my training, I heard him say, ‘I’m so proud of my wife. She wakes up early to train every day for an endurance challenge.’
Most of the conflict that we experience in our communication is when we don’t feel seen, heard, or respected. Learning to listen generously and to use a framework of acknowledgment and appreciation lays the foundation for effective communication and connection in your relationships.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of burnout?
I am a certified high-performance coach, certified master trainer, a graduate of Ascension Leadership Academy, and the High-Performance Institute. I am the recipient of the Evolutionary Business Council’s 2020 Bronze Mentorship Award and was a featured speaker at the Women’s Economic Forum in London. As an executive contributor to BRAINZ, magazine, I was one of 500 people featured on the Brainz Global list of 2020 and 2021. I have developed and conducted workshops, trainings, and webinars on how to achieve success without sacrifice and have privately coached numerous clients to be high-performers in their lives and businesses.
Burnout nearly ended my marriage and cost me everything that I was working hard to achieve. When I was building the real estate company, I was working full-time as a dental hygienist, traveling for my real estate education, working the business in the evenings and on weekends, while doing all of the shopping, cooking, and laundry. I was in a constant state of burnout and overwhelm. My health was affected and my body was in constant pain. My mood and energy were always frustrated and exhausted. I was working every spare moment and my family was getting what was left of me and that wasn’t much.
Before long, my husband began avoiding me and our communication was suffering. It was clear that we were heading for trouble. I discovered he was having an affair and it was the wake-up call that I needed to get myself together and stop sacrificing the very things and people that were important to me as I was advancing my career. We decided that our relationship was worth fighting for and we sought help from coaches and therapists that had us take a good hard look at who we were being in our relationship and showed us how to commit to the relationship that we both wanted and deserved.
We had to break down to have the breakthrough from the burnout that nearly destroyed our relationship and our business. We were so successful in creating the relationship that we have today that I created a framework for building strong relationships as a foundation for my high-performance coaching. Most of my clients have experienced burnout and they say that if they didn’t have the skills from the relationship foundational process, they would not have had the stellar results they’ve had with their high-performance training.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about beating burnout. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Burnout”? Can you explain?
We’ve been sold on the idea that we can have it all. And that to have it all, that we have to be it all and do it all too. In trying to have it all, be it all, and do it all perfectly, while trying to have work/life balance, we become stressed out burned out, and overwhelmed. Now we don’t have the mental energy or physical stamina to perform at our best. We are physically and mentally exhausted.
How would you define or describe the opposite of burnout?
It’s living a life that allows you to advance your career, and have a happy, healthy life full of positive emotions, energy, and relationships. It’s success without sacrifice.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Some sceptics may argue that burnout is a minor annoyance and we should just “soldier on’’ and “grin and bear it.” Can you please share a few reasons why burnout can have long-term impacts on our individual health, as well as the health and productivity of our society?
You cannot perform at your highest and best self if you are not feeling your best. When you go through life feeling the stress and overwhelm associated with burnout, it affects your mood, health, relationships, and interactions with other people. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are more likely to happen when you are suffering from burnout. Have you ever been in situations where you’ve gotten upset, overreacted, and placed the blame on others because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication? Burnout can cost you the things that are most important to you in life, like your health, your mental well-being, your relationships, and your success.
From your experience, perspective, or research, what are the main causes of burnout?
In my experience, burnout happens when you don’t have clarity of focus on your priorities. When you don’t have clear priorities and boundaries, you say yes to everything to please everyone and you end up overwhelmed because of it and that leads to burnout.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. What can an individual do if they are feeling burned out by work? How does one reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back?” Can you please share your “5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout?”. (Please share a story or an example for each.)
When someone is feeling burned out by work, they should first determine why they are feeling that way. Is it the work itself, the hours, the amount of productivity required or something that has to do with the structure in place? Get clear about who you are, what makes you happy and what’s important to you. Once you are clear on why you are feeling the burnout, then you can start creating the plan to reverse it.
- Be Selfish — Selfishness, in and of itself has a bad connotation. However, success requires selfishness. Your success depends on your ability to prioritize without regret. Until you can prioritize your health, well-being, and your energy, you can’t perform your best. You’ll end up going through life feeling stressed out, burned out, and overwhelmed. Your health, your mood, and your interactions with other people becomes affected. When you put yourself last, you and everyone around you suffer. Self-care is not separate from productive action.
- Stop Trying to do Everything! — Trying to do it all and doing it all perfectly is costing you dearly. The price you pay is that you feel like a failure because you can’t do it all. When you feel like you are failing, you and everyone around you suffers. The more that you pretend that you can handle everything and do it all, the less chance you’ll have at having anything at all. To be successful without experiencing burnout along the way, something’s got to give. You don’t have to sacrifice everything, but you will need to sacrifice some things. You need to determine what are the right things to give up so that you can focus on your priorities and values.
- Stop Trying to Find Balance — You want to find that work/life balance but there is no balance. You don’t find balance, you create it. Balance is not equal. Balance is personal and different for everyone. When you have a perfectly balanced scale, the number on that scale is ZERO. When you try to achieve the perfect balance between your personal and professional life, you’ve actually zeroed out the results. Zero happiness. Zero success. Zero results. You have to control the scale so that the scale doesn’t control you. You get to decide what side of the scale to adjust by adding or subtracting as you see fit. Stop adding and start subtracting.
- Master the Art of Saying NO — Every time you say yes when you really want to say no, you take yourself further away from your goal of success. You have the power to decide where your focus and energy go so start getting rid of everything that’s dragging you down. Let go of everything that you are doing to meet other people’s demands and expectations. When you let some of those things go, you’ll have more time for the important things in your life, like your family, health, relationships, and most importantly, yourself.
- Incorporate Daily Habits that Generate Energy — Your energy in your relationships matters more than anything. You don’t want your loved ones getting what’s left of you at the end of the day. Practice consistent habits that generate energy for your life and business. In a Nascar or an Indy 500 race, those high-performance vehicles stop for pit-stops so that they can continue to run at peak performance without breaking down or burning out. Imagine how much burnout you could prevent if you were to incorporate energy-generating pitstops into your day. Have routines that reset and recharge you mentally and physically throughout the day. A morning routine will wipe out 20% of stress and bring positivity to your day. Make sure you have a sleep routine of 7–8 hours per night so that you can rest and recover.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to help someone they care about reverse burnout?
What a great question. When you notice that someone you care about is experiencing burnout, the best thing you can do is schedule some fun time with them. Studies show that making time for fun and socialization, so that we can experience good relationships in our lives keeps us happier and healthier.
What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
I recently read about a company that created a culture where employees could set undisturbed focus time when they are working on a specific task. Creating environments that allow employees to minimize distractions and concentrate on the task at hand will foster greater productivity and less stress. In addition, respecting an employee’s boundaries, by not making requests after work hours, will reduce burnout. When your employees feel that they always need to be available to answer every text or email, regardless of what time it comes in, it creates a level of stress that can lead to burnout.
These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
We support what we create. Creating psychological safety in the workplace where employees can share their triumphs and challenges when it comes to stress and burnout is the first step. Collectively creating a company framework that ensures that employees can take time to recover from burnout without consequence will show how important mental health and wellness is to your company culture. We have to remove the shame and stigma and let our commitment to mental wellness be an integral part of the company culture.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to reverse burnout in themselves or others? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
A common mistake that I’ve seen people make is trying to do this alone or without qualified help and support. Being in a supportive environment and community will give you a greater chance of success when it comes to reversing burnout. Another common mistake is not setting clear boundaries. You need to be responsible, not only for creating clear boundaries but for communicating them as well. Without boundaries, we don’t know safety. Set it, communicate it and get support.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to inspire a movement that would bring awareness and training to cultural and inclusive intelligence like we have with personal development, leadership development, and emotional intelligence. You can’t be a high-performer unless you are culturally inclusive. We need both to create a lasting, sustainable impact at home, at work, and in our communities.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I’m obsessed with Julia Haart, CEO of Elite World Group. I’m just learning about her story, her bravery, and her success and it’s honestly the most inspiring story I’ve heard in a long time. Her resilience and commitment, not only to her freedom but to the freedom of women in general are so alignment with my belief that women will change the world for the better so that we can all have better!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/evamedileksuccesscoach/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theintimacyofrace
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!