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Does Your Battery Need Recharging?


A technical support person in a pager company tells the story of a customer call to the customer service center from a man who repeatedly complained he was being paged by "Lucille." He was instructed that he would have to call her and tell her to stop paging him.

"She don't never leave no number, so I can't call her back," he said. After three such calls, someone thought to ask how he knew it was Lucille if she didn't leave a number.

"She leaves her name" was the reply. After establishing that the customer had a numeric-only pager, the light bulb came on. "How does she spell her name?" the service rep asked. "L-O-W C-E-L-L"

Are you operating on a low cell? Have you given 'til it hurts, then given some more?

In your work or personal life, are you approaching burnout, desperately in need of a battery change?

Burnout researchers Maslach and Jackson paint a picture of three major burnout symptoms.

1. Emotional exhaustion. Do you feel that you have nothing much left to give? Like you want to either explode or go and hide? Is your emotional energy level at an all-time low in work or home relations?

2. Depersonalization. Do you find yourself more cynical about people? Do you suspect their motives or expect the worst? If you are in a helping profession, do you find yourself thinking of people as "cases", diagnoses, or generically, simply as "problems"?

3. Reduced sense of accomplishment. Does it seem you are working harder and getting less done? Do you picture yourself in a squirrel cage walking and running, but going in circles and not getting anywhere?

If these three factors describe you, you could be burning out. Interestingly, it is typically the most committed people who are vulnerable to burnout. (The others don't care!)

If you saw yourself in this burnout picture, you can begin to recharge your batteries with these three strategies.

1. It's okay to say no - really! It's not essential that everyone's needs (perceived or real) be met all the time, and it's certainly not your responsibility to keep everyone happy. Hang out with some people who like you but don't need anything. Learn to set your boundaries so that both your relationships and you will last longer.

2. Change something. When you are down, go on a vacation or even a weekend getaway. Think of a creative new way to get something done and do it differently. Sign up for a class to develop a new hobby. In your workaholic schedule, ink in some time for fun and play.

3. Revive your spirit.Spend some regular time alone connecting with your faith and nature. I highly recommend journaling, particularly prayer jounaling. Pause to count your blessings and give thanks. Notice the little answers to prayers. At work, remind yourself of the meaning and purpose of what you do. Recall times when you knew you were in the flow of what you were made to do, and look for opportunities to do more of that.

Balance your giving to others with these essential strategies for recharging your internal resources and, like the Energizer Bunny, you'll be able to keep on going and going and going.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist who has worked with organizations across the globe for over 20 years. Her high-energy, high-content, high-involvement Magnetic Workplaces (r) programs provide dozens of practical strategies and skills that can be put to work immediately to:

  • build strong leaders who influence and develop others through serving

  • energize, motivate, and retain team members

  • successfully accomplish important organizational transitions

  • impress customers and build their loyalty

  • Review a complete list of her programs available for your convention or corporate meeting at the website, www.MagneticWorkplaces.com


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