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The 4 P’s: Your Quickest Way to Get in Front of Burnout. Right Now.

There are many ways to address self-care and burnout, after twenty years working in the trenches I’ve boiled it down to one trifecta and four Ps.

Pause from Anese Cavanaugh

In my work with human beings and organizations to build healthier cultures, create positive impact, and to get in front of burnout all together, I’ve found the most sustainable and pleasurable change requires a three-pronged approach, a trifecta of sorts, and four P’s.

A Three-Pronged Approach: The Trifecta.

What is the trifecta? Self-Care, Mindset, and Cultural Support.

Self-care meaning preventative health and well-being, taking care of ourselves, being nice to ourselves, and tending to our needs. This has countless layers, which are highly individually-owned and can be nourished powerfully with cultural support.

Mindset meaning the way we think about things, the stories we tell, and the way our mind informs our behaviors and actions and how we show up. Being clear about our intentions (what we want to create), staying connected to purpose (why we’re doing it in the first place), people (the humans we lead, love, and work with — from a connection, contribution, and support standpoint), allowing full permission for authentic emotion (honoring and giving space and grace for all of it), and staying present (to ourselves, our needs, this moment, and the state of our lives) to be secret sauce in solving some of our biggest mindset challenges. Mindset is highly individually owned and can be cultivated even more powerfully with cultural support.

Cultural Support meaning creating systems, structures, agreements, and authentically-reinforced values and visions that allow for self-care, thoughtful work, efficient optimized thinking and time management, as well as space, grace, and safety for conversations about workload, overwhelm, burnout, and mental health. These are culturally-owned and can be profoundly impacted and expanded with individual support.

All three of these are essential to creating sustainable cultural change in the areas of optimized leadership and burnout. I hold self-care as a leadership skill that should be taught and coached as part of every leadership program, MBA, and anything that has to do with humans being more effective, powerful, and impactful in their lives. And I believe that cultural support can be a helpful catalyst for nourishing the success of the first two. That said, I’m going to focus on Mindset here, specifically the Four P’s, because I’ve found that if you get this “right,” everything else gets easier.

Mindset: The Four P’s.

The Four P’s are vital to our leadership. They are vital to preventing, navigating, and healing burnout. They are also sorely missed in the conversation of burnout and how to prevent it. Most people believe that burnout comes from a lack of self-care, burning the candle at both ends, overwhelm, overwork, bullying, mental fatigue, etc. And YES, for sure, 100%, these things are all major contributors. And in my work over the last twenty years, I’ve found the Four P’s to be crucial in helping us build our immunity to burnout, and powerful in helping us stay on track so we don’t have to wrestle with it in the first place.

Consider people you might know who work 9-5, exercise every day, eat well, have great relationships, and have great “work-life” balance… Yet, they’re still “busy” and burnt out.

Now consider someone you know who works 50+ hours week, doesn’t get every workout in, seems to do more than any human should be capable of, responds to their own email promptly, never complains about “busyness,” has (what looks like) zero “work-life balance”… and yet they are THRIVING. Not burnt out. At all.

In my experience the difference between these two people is the connection and relationship they have with the Four Ps and the quality of their “IEP,” their Intentional Energetic Presence® (which broken down another way is their intentions, energy, and presence).

What are the Ps?

All of these P’s impact our IEP, leadership presence (internally and externally), the experience we create for ourselves, and how we show up in every moment.

  • Purpose: Why we do what we do, our WHY, our greatest intention, WHO we impact, what we’re in service of impacting. Our Intention lives here as well – the intention for what we want to create. The clearer our intention and purpose, the stronger our IEP, and the less energy we waste dabbling in things that don’t serve our energy or aren’t the best use of us. Connection to purpose also serves as FUEL. When that hard day is happening and we’re feeling overwhelmed; reboot, connect to purpose and your WHY, and keep going. After all, if you’re not connected to why you’re doing what you’re doing, what’s the point? #fuel.
  • People: The human beings we are with (not objects, humans), having empathy, authentic connection, and space and presence for communication. This is about the people we surround ourselves with (soul-sucking or life-giving), the quality of our relationships, remembering we are not alone, and asking for (and giving) help as needed. Life is IN relationship. Everything is a relationship. #connection
  • Pain/Pleasure/Play: Allowing ourselves to feel the pain of whatever is happening, to have authentic emotion around it, and to get support for it. With pain, on the other side of the spectrum, is pleasure; allowing yourselves to feel the pleasure of life, to play, to experience joy, and the good. Pain and pleasure are directly related, the more capacity we have for pain, the more we can access pleasure. When we cut ourselves off from either of these, you can count on a spiritual meltdown at some point, and, at a minimum, less emotional range and emotional intelligence as leader. #fullrangemotion
  • Presence: Which supports all of the above and everything on this list. If I’m not present to what’s what right now, none of this has a great shot. Being here now versus stressed out about what happened, what might happen, and what will never happen. Being present and connecting with purpose, people, pleasure, pain, and all that life brings NOW. In this present moment, there is no stress, there is no overwhelm, there is no burnout, there is ME and whatever I am here to do and be. If I allow myself full presence, take care of myself, stay grounded in my intention and purpose, and remember to connect with the human being in front of me — in even the most “stressful” or scary of situations, I’m more fully resourced to stay calm and access the “right” next step. Presence is the antidote to busy and burnout. #pause #presencenotperfection

When we’re connected to the Four Ps, we’re more connected to things like self-care, how to navigate conflict, how to hold our space and ditch busy and overwhelm, and how to manage so many of the traditional issues that lead to burnout.

Now make this real. Use it. Pause. Notice how you relate to these Ps and then hop to. Address. Engage. Lean in. Awareness is 70% of the battle, what you do with it is where the power shows up.

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For more on the Ps (there are actually more than four AND these four serve the others), IEP, the IEP Method®, or the ideas in this article, check out CONTAGIOUS CULTURE: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization Thrives (McGraw-Hill, 2015), and also the forthcoming CONTAGIOUS YOU: Unlock Your Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want (McGraw-Hill, November, 2019).

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