A different perspective on Burnout

Reading time: 4 minutes
A different perspective on burnout - Mihai ZANT

➡️ I was close to burnout…

➡️ I had a pre-burnout…

➡️ I had a milder burnout…


These are the phrases usually used by the persons who have passed through a burnout. I have also observed myself using the same expressions.


I had reflected for some time why people are trying to avoid addressing this matter in its face. And, as usually, burnout comes in a bundle with anxiety, an aftermath of depression and potential physical health problems. Maybe this is why it is harder to assume.

But, one point that I want to make is this:

✅️ Most burnouts are internally generated and not externally, as most people believe.


I know this may be a harsh statement. But, if when you read it you feel in the gut it’s true, just read forward. The better path is kindness and forgiveness while observing the patterns that led you there. Not denial. If this doesn’t apply to you, it’s fine.


While emotions of fury, resentment and blame are arising from this situation, it is always easier to point fingers and blame companies and their leaders. But, if you’re true to yourself, you will know that you had your fair share in this.


In my case, it was even more extreme and that helped me to realize it and assumed responsibility for this. While I was working hard and accelerated way above my company’s rhythm, those around me advised me to take it slower… I didn’t listen and chased an unconscious and poorly understood definition of success.


But this doesn’t need to be like this. I was talking one day to a HR Director whom I like. And, as she was working in a field that is perceived as being with hard work and very dynamic, she told me this interview question.

A candidate asked her:

– Be sincere: I need to work hard here, don’t I?

And she responded:

– In order to give you that answer, I need to know who you are, first”

As far as I am concerned, in this little piece of interaction, lies a big chunk of the truth.


It is a poorer long-term strategy to approach life by blaming, pointing fingers and changing companies with the expectation that you will find “that leader” that will be “as it should” (aka. external locus of control). In a career one will work with various leaders and you will need to know how to manage all sorts of situations.


A more sustainable strategy may be the one in which you #shift internally and learn about yourself and what are your current limits, how to gradually and safely enlarge them (if you want it), how to rest and re-energise, how to set limits, say no, reframe, prioritize and (re)negotiate deadlines and scope of work. (aka. Internal locus of control)


A good experiment is to start being a freelancer or entrepreneur. You may be faced with even more amounts of pressure and there is no one to blame anymore. Well, you can vent and blame your clients, the state, global trends, war or anything. But beyond a brief moment of venting, this is counter-productive.


Or, another organizational experiment shows you the same thing without being an entrepreneur. Let’s imagine that your leader has set a pull system for tasks assignment. The requests from internal/external clients are coming in a pool and there is a performance measurement of volume/efficiency in place. This triggers some of your patterns (competitive, needs of validation etc) and before you know it, you are overloading yourself with things to do and no one to blame, really.  

Therefore, assuming responsibility with forgiveness, kindness and acceptance, while entering a self-awareness and self-leadership journey can be way more fruitful. It will reconstruct your internal power, will shift positioning in every interaction and will bring about the expected results. The only sustainable way to impact work/life relationships is to shift internally and assert yourself while observing the effect that has on others and continuously adjust. Having expectations without addressing them may feel more comfortable for now, but bears little results and high frustration on the longer run.


Credits: Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Managing Partner at CoachingAfterSchool.com, Humanistic.ro and CareerShift.ro. Having over 10 years of experience in leading teams and communities he concentrated his work in building Learning Organisations.

Don’t forget to share this article!

Related articles: