Lost and Found
He swooped into Dodge City driving a six-horse wagon and totin’ a full pocket of cash. His aim, and only aim, was to win Miss Kitty’s heart. He worked all days and nights with all his might and with all his money, but to no avail. The more he pushed, the more she pulled away. Her heart was and always would be in the Long Branch Saloon and with her man, Marshall Matt Dillon.
Finally, fully exhausted and broke, this once-rich man leaves town walking alongside an old donkey with a half-empty knapsack thrown over his sagging shoulder.
This episode of Gunsmoke ended showing Matt, Doc and Kitty all leaning against a hitching post. Together they watch the man saunter into the sunset. Matt said, “He looks awfully lonely.” Kitty looked up, fluttered her dark lashes and replied, “There is nothing as lonely as a man who’s lost his dream.”
The year 2020 has been a time of loneliness and lost dreams for far too many people. Recent national surveys report that over 50% of employees say they are burned out. Now, I could list signs of burnout you can look for in people , but if you care enough to pay attention, you will notice that tired and alone look in a person’s eyes, even on Zoom. I believe that some of this personal exhaustion is self-imposed, but some of it is not.
These days some organizations and senior leaders try to improve productivity by demanding more — pushing people to do more with less — more hours, more projects, more email, and more output. This is truer now than ever, given the global pandemic and economic fallout since. But always focusing on “more” may be a mistake as it can lead to overwork and burnout. As you know, after a certain point, additional hours spent working don’t necessarily translate into additional productivity.
The reason behind the diminishing productivity can be explained by what social scientists call the effort-recovery model. This model emphasizes that recovery is essential after a period of extended effort to prevent burnout. Insufficient recovery can result in diminished performance. Rest provides the fuel necessary for hard work and can help prevent burnout.
Journal Entry: What do you notice in the eyes of the people you work with and live with every day? Lost Dreams? Loneliness? I hope you don’t see either of these, but if you do and you would like to help this person, consider this: First ask these three questions below to yourself. After you do this, ask the same questions to that person who may be struggling.
- What goals did you hope to reach in 2020?
- How those have worked out or not worked out?
- What have you learned about what you need to do more or less this year and next?
After you mention these questions, just listen to what he or he has to share without offering any advice. Let them decide what they have lost and found in their leadership or life.
Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
― Fred Rogers
CLICK HERE to read “How to Foster Resilience & Prevent Burnout”.
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