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August 17, 2020

Below is a lesson from Steven Kotler on battling burnout, as well as our key learnings.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


Kotler Tribe Email on Burnout

Steven Kotler

According to the WHO and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), Burnout is defined as:
A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.
Does that sound familiar at all?
A hell of a lot of our high performing entrepreneurial clients have. That’s for sure. 
Burnout is the opposite of flow. 
Performance flatlines. Everything’s a grind. Focus is damn near impossible. 
It often sneaks up on us in an unsuspecting way. 
We may not be totally aware that we’re about to hit a wall. 
Problem is, after we hit that wall there’s no going back. 
After burning out you can’t just return to your old way of working.
If you do, you’re going to bash right back into that wall.
The real key is to preemptively avoid burnout so that it doesn’t creep up on you and catch you off guard. 
Here are some quick tips you can deploy immediately to help you reduce and avoid burnout:
1—Get Serious About Recovery: 
Take recovery as seriously as you take your work. 
That means adding it to your to-do list, putting it on your calendar, making sure it happens. 
By recovery—we mean active recovery. Doing things that are going to speed up your return to baseline.
Some protocols our clients like are ice baths, foam rolling, massage, saunas, yoga, nature immersion. You get the idea. 
What’s more, research done by Harvard Cardiologist Herb Benson found that flow states actually happen as just one stage in a four stage physiological cycle. 
The final stage of that cycle? A recovery phase. 
Flow is a neurochemically expensive state and you need to recover on the backend of a deep flow state to avoid getting fried. 
2—Make Your Life Binary: 
This means living a life where you’re always either fully on, or fully off. 
At any given time, you should either be working as intensely and productively as possible or you should be recovering as deeply as possible. 
Anything in between is what we call the grey zone. 
That no man’s land where we’re not fully focused or recovering or even enjoying ourselves. 
Do your best to eliminate this grey zone so that you’re either in flow fully focused or unplugged and fully off. 
No one looks back on life and wishes they spent more time half checking Instagram while half responding to emails. 
3—Make Sure Your Day Has A “Definition of Done”:
Research done by Stanford Social Psychologist, Dr. Christina Maslach found that “insufficient reward” is just as much of a contributor to burnout as overworking is. 
Without a clear definition of what makes your day a win, you can never declare victory. 
It’s super important to know exactly what a win looks like. 
Otherwise, you’ll never get a sense of reward and life will just feel like an unending slog toward some undefined and out of sight end point. 
If that sounds like a recipe for burnout it’s because it is!
Hope this helps you dodge burnout so you can keep on flowin’. 
Rooting for you, 
Steven Kotler

For more on Steven Kotler, click here.


Key Learnings:

According to the WHO and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), Burnout is defined as:

A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

Does that sound familiar at all?

  • Burnout is the opposite of flow
  • Performance Flatlines
  • Everything’s a grind
  • Focus is damn near impossible
  • Burnout sneaks up on us

We may NOT be totally aware we are about to hit a wall…..but after we do…there is no going back.

After burnout  we can’t return to the old way of working or you’ll bash right back into that wall.

The real key is to preemptively avoid burnout so that it doesn’t creep up on you and catch you off guard.

3 Quick Tips to Avoid Burnout

  1. Get Serious about Recovery
  • We mean ACTIVE recovery: doing things to speed up the return to baseline – add it to your “to-do” list!
  • *Examples:  *An ice bath*Foam Rolling *Massage*Saunas*Yoga*Nature Immersion
  • Research found that flow state happens at the final stage in a four stage physiological cycle – the Recovery Phase. – Herb Benson; Harvard Cardiologist
  • Flow is a neurochemically expensive state needed to recover on the backend of a deep flow state to avoid getting fried
  1. Make Your Life Binary
  • You should either be working as intensely and productively as possible or you should be recovering as deeply as possible; Fully On or Fully Off – anything in between is the “gray zone”
  • Eliminate this grey zone so that you’re either in flow fully focused or unplugged and fully off!
  • No one looks back on life and wishes they spent more time half checking Instagram while half responding to emails
  1. Make Sure Your Day Has a “Definition of Done
  • Research says that “insufficient reward” is just as much of a contributor to burnout as overworking is. – Dr. Christina Maslach; Stanford Social Psychologist
  • Without a clear definition of what makes your day a win, you can never declare victory. It’s super important to identify a win!
  • You need that sense of reward or life will just feel like an unending slog toward some undefined and out of sight end point.