burn-out and what leads to it

it’s always busy around this period of the year. fully packed agenda, numerous tasks to finish, lots of traffic, many presents to be bought, people to meet and greet.
i have particularly lot’s of things to do before and during this Christmas -so will be from now on every year and it’s not that i’m complaining!- this is why the question of burn-out preoccupies me in a special way.

in the search for understanding what’s happening with overloaded people and how to prevent burn-out, i got to read Anselm Grün on burnout prevention. the benedictine states that most of the times he observes five motives that lead to burn-out.

but before reviewing the five, let me make it clear for everyone: stress and burn-out are not the same. being very busy and tired from being overcharged, having a lot of things on your schedule and not coping to finish what has to be done does not mean that you have a burnout. learn to distinguish stress, tiredness (and maybe the inability to organize yourself better) from burn-out !

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  1. perfectionism – most people try to do their best, but there are people who are not satisfied with themselves and they try to achieve 150%. be careful now, even 100% can’t be achieved – only maybe in heaven. why aiming higher, when the must-need thing is to do your job properly? you will put plus wight on your shoulders. if you try to put the standards higher than needed, you are the only one to blame for not being able to complete what you have planned. burn-out can strike when you try to do more than imaginable.
  2. being outward – people try to satisfy others, try to live up to others expectations and behave in a way others would like to see them. it’s not you living anymore, but the one others expect from you to be lives on your behalf. you need to answer expectations, but you don’t need to fulfill every each of the expectations.
  3. building wrong image of yourself – perfectionism is an inner process, being outward has to do with the surroundings. when the two of them are both present you get a mixed up stream of consciousness. you don’t work enough on your identity and for this reason you get to be changed in someone you don’t know anymore. it’s good to sit back from time to time and make it clear who you are and who you became. revert every time to the authentic self.
  4.  tiredness – this is simple. it’s biology. we all reach a point where we need to stop. don’t put too much strain on yourself. take some proper rest. have you ever heard of power naps? now you did. apply them.
  5. disappointment – this theme is very wide. it can be that you don’t get enough positive feed-back or you simply don’t take time to reflect on your activity. reflection gives you the opportunity to think through experiences, both good and bad. you have to admit yourself from time to time that you had failures, but you need to see also your successes. reflect not to be deflected.

 

instead of burning out, watch for these five causes and head forward like a fast car with a burnout.

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leadership models (II) – have a vision

the business leadership book of John P. Kotter called Leading Change inspired me especially on how to organize a group and in many other ways. but the most intriguing and original ideas for me were the ones the author wrote about leaders and ways to lead. he writes a comparison example that helps to understand the difference between a usual and a great leader. here is our case: three different groups of 10 people each are having picnic. suddenly a rainstorm is coming. so here it is how the three different leaders of the groups react.

(1) in the first group the leader says something like: get up and follow me! we need to get under cover – and expects everyone to do that. no explanation, no reasons to interpret. he uses only the authority.

(2) second group, the leader says: okay here is the plan. we will take up carefully everything we used for the picnic, everyone it’s own belongings first, than we shall help others, and after that we will try to reach a safer point, and from there we can actually see new possibilities in order to… and the whole group got wet already!

(3) the leader of the third group acts as following: it’s going to rain in a few minutes. why don’t we go under that huge apple tree. we’ll stay dry and we can eat some apples for dessert.

they say, the last leader is the best. because he has a vision. it’s not only that the group does what is necessarily to do, but also gets a reward, gets a further motivation. gets a vision. and a vision is always giving a new direction for the people, it’s easily imaginable and desirable and can be easily explained.

with the help of the book and mainly thanks to this story, i realized the importance of having a further plan, something that won’t keep me busy only for a few months, but will keep me incorporated in my everyday life.

don’t get me wrong. i’m not talking about long term plans, wishes or dreams. i’m talking about a vision.

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i have the feeling that burnout strikes in when people stop being visionaries. they might have some plans, things they want to achieve, cases they want to fight for, places they would like to visit, tasks that are engaged with, but these are things everyone can easily have -voluntarily or in a vegetative way-

having a vision means to be flowing. to be persistent. having a vision is not the type of lifestyle when you ask yourself who you want to be in 10 years and where do you imagine yourself being in 20 years. having a vision means to have a comprehensive view of your whole life, aims, dreams, spirituality, status.
having a vision means to have a panoramic view of your life.

i’m not talking about general dreams. i’m talking about visions.

maundy thursday

when he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “do you understand what I have done to you? you call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. if I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. for I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you”. John 13. 12 – 15

dear teachers of children’s ministry, dear teachers of Word of God

this story out of which i have quoted a few verses is usually read and quoted mainly when the speaker wants to talk about christian community, in feast period and as we approach easily to Easter, mainly on maundy thursday. it happens on the last supper, where Jesus gives an example worth of following for all those who believe in Him.

now, i challenge you to read this part from the Bible with a pedagogical eye, heart and mind, with pedagogical professionalism and in the sense of true leadership. because i truly believe that by this story Jesus wants us to teach not only how to act in a christian community, or in christian life in general, but would also like to show us, how to teach, and how a teacher should approach to a child, to a disciple and how should a leader behave.

if I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet

i remember myself as the little boy who always loved to play outside, rather than in between four walls and a roof. and that happened also during sunday school. i never made handy crafts, i always wanted to play outside. even on a rainy day, after a huge rain or while raining. and i loved to step in dirt. i enjoyed jumping in all the dirty places you could imagine. in ten minutes of play time, i’m telling you, i was able to gather the whole dirt of the world on my shoes. and then there is this sunday school teacher. she is supposed to return me back to my parents after the class is over, exactly the way i arrived there. so i remember standing in front of this sunday school teacher. she was always helping me to clean my dirty shoes. when i didn’t wanted to do it, she would kneel down in front of me and clean my shoes herself. i have a strong picture of this teacher every time: i stand there with my dirty shoe, she is kneeling in front of me and as i look in a position down, she is cleaning my shoes. she cleaned my shoes. she washed my feet. i can ever since than look up to this teacher.

because that is the way she was doing everything: teaching, praying, talking with the children, talking with everyone. she had a holy humbleness, which can be the best characterized with this action: kneeling down and cleaning my shoes, washing my feet.

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i believe, this is the only way you can be good teachers, pastors, leaders, ministers, missionaries.
teachers with head, who wash the feet of their disciples.

Leadership models (I)

not everyone leads the same. there are different approaches on leadership that might vary given on the type of the company, team or community you lead and your personality. having a good balance between your role as a leader and your personality is always essential. one can have a very good team, that only has to be accompanied, others could face the problem of having a group that has to be lead in every small decision.

so, what type of leader are you? here are a few common models i have chosen to summarise. try to find out which would fit you better.

  1. the democratic. every final decision is made by you, but in the process of making a decision you involve the whole team, you listen to their points of view and keep in mind or at least aknowledge every opinion. at the end you summarise everything and try to bring out the best of the ideas.
  2.  the bureaucratic or the autocratic. you have a well developed theory on how things should work. you want everyone to follow the rules you made. you want the team to stick to the routine. you don’t like innovations. you are the boss, the others should only obey. it’s not interesting what are the opinion of the team is, you know better, you want everything to work as you imagine.
  3. laissez-faire. it’s not important to get involved in the process. you give freedom to your team members to acomplish things in the way they want. you give autonomy to your team. i think this type of leadership aproach would work the best when you lead a team of volunteers, people who are not paid for doing the job (church comunity, charity service etc.)

! these are elementary leadership models. to read about them it’s a good start in knowing yourself better or to begin thinking about your leadership role. for further and deeper self-knowledge, i suggest you to read materials that talk more professionaly and widely on this theme.

here are a few pages you might find useful:

a. mindtools.com https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_84.htm

b. learn-to-be-a-leader.com

c. forbes.com
http://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2015/11/19/3-signs-your-leadership-style-is-too-tough/

 

istvanmarton: leadership is about making things better. that starts with you as a leader, goes through the whole team, but in the end arrives back again to you.