Burnout Results From Living in Conflict with Values

The New York Times recently had an article on rising burnout among clergy entitled “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work.”  The article was followed by a thoughtful op-ed entitled “Congregations Gone Wild.”

Effective leadership, employee engagement and employee motivation are closely linked to the alignment of behavior with personal values. In the case of clergy, putting a muzzle on pastors so they are unable to preach in a way that is consistent with their values is a sure path to burnout.

This is a very important issue that everyone should spend time thinking about. Set aside time this month to list your values.  Ask yourself, “what do I believe in and what’s important to me in the way I live my life?”  Then compare what you wrote down with how you presently live.   During the Depression, a young financial analyst working in London did this exercise. Years later reflecting on it he wrote that “people, I realized, is what I value and I had no desire to be the richest man in the cemetery.” That young man, Peter Drucker, left his well-paying job and went on to become the father of management consulting. In “How Peter Drucker Changed My Life” I wrote about how Drucker’s writings affected my own career decisions.

What if you discover there are differences in your values and how you are presently living?  My advice is to invite 2-3 people you trust and respect to meet with you, discuss your analysis and thoughts about how you might take action to close the values gaps.  You may find all that is necessary is to speak with your supervisor about making changes to your present job or something more may be required such as moving to a different job or business unit in your organization, or, in the the most extreme instances, changing careers altogether.  Whatever the case, ignoring the present stressful state is never wise because if affects your mental and physical heath, your relationships and your job performance. Having conversations with people you trust will help reduce the stress you feel and also help clarify your thinking so that you can develop a clear plan to move forward to a better state of work and a better life.

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