I was having a talk with a friend recently and he was sharing with me his feelings of despair and burnout (a sentiment that is unfortunately more and more common in our industry - but fortunately, many have the desire to talk about it as well).
Some days getting things done in an impactful way feels like cats and dogs trying to live together - all of your hard work and energy burned just ends up in claws and barks.
I have seen some of the evidences of this in my own circles so I wanted to share a perspective that I hope encourages us to be better, more intentional leaders (this means everyone because anyone who owns their "impact" is a leader).
It’s about agency. I’m using the word agency as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices, i.e. to be empowered. Marcy Sutton crystalized this in a tweet she made:
“After suffering career burnout for the past 4-5 years, here’s how I’ve come to understand its cause: Burnout is a response to repeated attempts to make meaningful change while lacking the agency to do so. See problems > try to fix them > get shot down or ignored.”
What do we do about a lack of agency?
I know we as a community know this, but it there is a benefit to saying it "out loud":
We’re dealing with real people, with real human aspects, who have incredible abilities, amazing ideas, and beautiful passions. I hope we all have the integrity and forethought to help guide anyone we can in our organizations (including ourselves) into a position of feeling empowered to carryout meaningful change in everything we do.
We should take a moment to realize that any destabilizing factors (take your pick from 2020, not to mention in your organizations or personal lives).
I hope we all have the courage to do what we can to help make others around us FEEL and BE empowered to enact meaningful change today; then have the endurance to do it again tomorrow.