The Dance Between Cozy Warmth and Burnout at Your Job

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals ArticleI have been spending the last few days in my Canyon Hideaway at the Four Corners. My main heat source in this small house tugged against the Red Rocks is a wood stove. Every time I get here, I’m having problems starting the fire and keeping it going. For me it is always a threshold to cross to a slower pace living.

Clearly I’m lacking patience the first few days. I have thrown too much wood on a fire that just started. I’ve been frequently standing out on the porch to let some fresh air in my smoke filled home. I’m making the same mistake that I help people avoid in my work as business coach & consultant.

After realizing this, I have to laugh at myself. What a great reminder and a powerful metaphor.

What is a simple heat source for me, had a much deeper meaning when people in this area lived in Tepees. The fire was the center of their living space and had to be tended to constantly. During the winter month it was vital for survival. It also marked the center of their circular living space. A reflection of their core belief that everything moves in a natural cycle.

It was said that one who jumps the fire and ignores the circular way and its seasons gets burned. How true that is for our fast paced world. If only they had known that our modern world even found a fancy word for it: Burnout.

This term is widely used for individuals being utterly exhausted. From what I have seen in my work I believe burnout can happen to companies, too. I have seen people of fast growing companies completely drained, which can paralyze a complete organization.

How does one tend to a companies fire?

A spark is not enough – We need to lovingly tend to what we ignite. Be it a company, a new product, a team or a relationship.

Practice patience. A fire needs time to build up, just like trust. It needs a little time before it can bare the weight of a larger log without going up in smoke.

Everything in moderation. How much heat can a team or an organization take? Does all the change have to happen at once? Size new projects realistically. Don’t let your people go up in flames.

Focus on community. A fire was used to gather and share stories. Your company is only as strong as the ties between people. Tend to them constantly, not just once a year during a team event.

Go circular. Respect the natural cycles of planting seeds, growing, harvesting and rejuvenating. We are jumping the fire all too many times by not honoring times to rest and rejuvenate.

Your company is your living space, just like a Tepee. Make sure the fire that is vital for survival is tended to constantly. Make your living space inviting and cozy for those who come to visit.

About the Author

Barbara Wittmann is an IT consultant, leadership coach and a passionate entrepreneur. Her quest for healthy concepts of leadership and growth brought her into the wilderness, where she explored the ancient wisdom of Native American cultures. She integrates their values and rituals, which are still relevant and livable today, into her everyday business life with great success. She lives in Munich, Germany, and frequently travels to wild and untouched places in the US.

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