The Brownout Comes Before the Burnout

BY  of Collective Hub

There are early signs that you building up to a burnout. It’s the mini meltdown before the big breakdown.

Pettina Stanghon’s start-up was still in its honeymoon period when she noticed something happening amongst her employees. “A number of staff members started to have meltdowns,” says Pettina. “They seemed tearful and exhausted. Their relationships were suffering and they were projecting; getting angry and blaming the business for things that were happening to them.”This emotional downturn was particularly interesting given the nature of the business. Pettina is the co-founder of Noosa Confidential, a private rehab program that treats mental health issues. It also runs a corporate program for overworked, overstretched CEOs and leaders. But, ironically, her team were also struggling with their own stress levels.What’s the problem?One morning, Pettina received a letter from a key staff member who was an artist in her spare time, complaining because she no longer had time to paint. “You talk about the importance of self-care and creativity but you’re not giving your staff time to practice it,” the letter read.“As a business owner, my first reaction was frustration and criticism,” admits Pettina. “I am the daughter of two entrepreneurs and have a very strong work ethic. My staff is frequently pushed to the limits but I pay them well and always thought this was a fair exchange.”

Unlike the clients who come to the clinic suffering from burnout, her staff wasn’t at crisis point. They were just demotivated, disengaged and generally unhappy. They weren’t suffering from burnout – they were still able to come to work, to perform well and act efficiently. But, there was a general sense of unhappiness, tiredness, and lethargy.

Is it the “cold” or the “flu?”

And they’re not alone. In fact, this reaction to work is becoming so common that experts have given it a new name – brownout. The term, which is used to describe part of the life stage of a star, describes the stage before burnout. And it’s a condition many people seem to suffer from. If burnout is the flu, think of brownout as a common cold – they both have similar symptoms, but brownout is less crippling. You still go to the office, but your heart isn’t in it. You’d prefer to be hiding at home under your doona.

American coaching firm Corporate Balance Concepts recently surveyed 1000 executives and estimated that 5 per cent of them suffered from burnout, while 40 per cent suffered from ‘Executive Brownout’.

“Brownout is different from burnout because workers afflicted by it are not in obvious crisis,” says Michael E Kibler, CEO of Corporate Balance Concepts. “They seem to be performing fine: putting in massive hours in meetings and calls across time zones, grinding out work while leading or contributing to global teams, and saying all the right things in meetings (though not in side-bar conversations). However, these executives are often operating in a silent state of continual overwhelm, and the predictable consequence is disengagement.”

As an example, he cites the resignation of Mohamed El-Erian, the former CEO of PIMCO, who shocked the tech world by resigning suddenly in 2014 after his 10-year-old daughter wrote him a list of all the milestones he’d missed in her life (from Halloween parades to first soccer matches).

It’s worth noting that Mohamed hasn’t actually been diagnosed with brownout, nor has it yet been labeled an official condition – more a phrase that’s gaining momentum in the corporate and start-up world of high achievers and big goals, where high prices are often paid in return.

Michael says he is seeing the signs in every workplace – workers feeling drained from continuous obligations and physical deterioration from years of sub- optimal sleep. There’s also a diminishing ability to concentrate in non-business conversations. In business meetings, you’re still on your game, but no longer have any interest in making small talk with colleagues.

What to do when it happens to you

Australian business coach Brook McCarthy has suffered from a brownout, although she didn’t call it that at the time. “I describe it as the year I lost my business mojo,” she says. “I lost clients – and no wonder – because I had a stinking bad attitude. It felt like I fell into a funk that I could not get out of.” Her downward spiral was caused by small, everyday challenges that compounded.

“I had sleep deprivation and a few bad run-ins with people,” she recalls. “There were the endless go-nowhere coffee dates with the promise of possible work, which didn’t happen. And one memorable three- hour round trip to the outer reaches of Sydney for a meeting with a prospect who didn’t turn up, didn’t answer her phone, and didn’t bother getting in touch again.”

These setbacks weren’t enough to trigger full-blown burnout, but only because she took proactive measures. “I realised that I needed to take responsibility to woo my mojo back. The first step was valuing my time. I overhauled my quoting process and no longer had meetings without clear agendas. I also made time for joy and celebration. I adopted new practices such as taking my laptop out on excursions to cafes or art galleries. I started inviting my smartest girlfriends for spa dates to talk business.”

It might sound like clichéd advice – rest more, laugh more and say ‘no more’ – but the antidote to both burnout and brownout does appear to be making time for both work and your life outside of it. At Noosa Confidential, burnout sufferers are offered a combination of talk therapy combined with mindfulness techniques and are encouraged to ‘rediscover simple pleasures’ like walking on the beach or creating home-cooked meals.

As for the company’s internal culture, Pettina took innovative measures to boost morale. She implemented a four-day workweek (although some people choose to work five days and others work three and a half). The therapy team can also work from home whenever possible. The staff member who wrote the letter now sells her art at a local market and her paintings hang on the clinic walls. “I’m glad I had an open dialogue with my team early before it got worse,” says Pettina. “I don’t think there is a massive leap between brownout and burnout. One minute you’re fine and then you’re not. The tipping point could be something minor – having an argument with your husband or drinking too much one weekend. I didn’t want it to come to that.”

As brownout isn’t (yet) an official condition, good luck getting a sick note. But, if you diagnose yourself you can also cure yourself – with a course of self-care, an injection of self-worth and a daily dose of me-time.

BY  of Collective Hub

The New PerformanceLifestyle.com Goes Live!

The new Performance Lifestyle [PL] website is live!

This is our new virtual space, online training center, and the place of which we’ll be serving you. That is, when we’re not at a live event together. 🙂

For those of you who were subscribers to Nutrient-Rich Superfoods, you’ll see our natural products and education are now all built into Performance Lifestyle® and will be available very soon. We appreciate your patience.

I can’t wait to tell you all about PL.

Here at PerformanceLifestyle, we serve the achiever; primarily goal and success-oriented people (typically driven business professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, executives and managers of growth organizations who are often women and men with families, who would be drawn to participating in endurance events as inspiration for their lives as whole and to stay in shape.

The reason this idea is so appealing to professionals is simple, because this is the group of people that fills out most of middle America. We are hard working hard charging people who have the balancing act of succeeding while taking care of ourselves, bodies and our lives, including our families. We have aspirations to rise and all of this takes an enormous amount of energy and skills to navigate for an optimal life experience.

Simply put, we need to function and perform as relatively high levels throughout the year in so many capacities that being distracted and held back by hidden lifestyle challenges such as the pandemic feeling of low energy and fatigue is not favorable. It leads to poor health and performance and this can netgatively affect a persons success results.

Of course, Performance Lifestyle’s Essential trainings can benefit anyone, as these are the fundamentals of successful living, which when applied in the macro of a persons life and the micro of day to day living, will change their life for the better forever.

We got inspiration for this idea of Performance Lifestyle Training, Coaching, and Support for people who may not be into sports or even fitness enthusiasts at present, but wants to start living with optimal energy levels, high-level health and performance (look and feel better too) ironically from the world of professional athletics, where the idea of living “performance lifestyle” was born. 

See About PL: The Origins of Performance Lifestyle. Athletes exemplify the mindset and lifestyle that supports performance, even if most have never been performance lifestyle trained. 

Their culture reinforces an approach to life that promotes balance and health to a certain and above-average extent (as a given not the goal) and yields the personal and professional performance so many people admire as we watch them achieve their goals. 

Athletes are also relatable and the most visible subset of the population that directly links their lifestyle with their success.

It does not matter if you were ever into sports or even a health or fitness enthusiast, you can benefit big by developing a performance lifestyle you can call your own. 

As a former competitive athlete turned worn-down tech entrepreneur, when I discovered the idea of living a performance lifestyle, it prompted me to begin applying my previous ways of life as an athlete to my life as a business and family man.

I knew a lot about nutrition, fitness and the need for sleep, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to improve my energy levels more than anything else, and of course my health and performance, which were all lagging big time at the time.

It was not until I relearned how to approach life with the mindset and lifestyle of an athlete, with emphasis on harnessing, maintaining and managing my personal energy, that things began to correct course and life itself got better across the board.  
But it didn’t stop there…

With a world-class lifestyle science advisory team, we have since taken this approach in life to a whole new tier of understanding and application.

In addition to thinking and living like an athlete, Performance Lifestyle uncovers the science of evolutionary biology, bioenergetics, and seasonal variation… at the core of the lifestyle, to reveal the secrets of optimal energy; also known as Performance Living 101.

You’ll be learning a lot more about all of that and it will enhance your performance in a measurable way, as we reveal the science, the principles and best practices across every aspect of the lifestyle that enables people to live in balance, with vibrant health and peace of mind while achieving even their most ambitious goals.  

Get ready to discover the never-before-assembled lifestyle formula for optimal energy, health, and performance, so that you can start living with optimal energy levels. 

When you first get to the site, click on the play button at the top of the site, or go here and you’ll get a video from me.

I share some of this back story, and my personal experience, first hand, as you begin to peruse the site.  

Why be an active subscriber, student, and client of Performance Lifestyle, Inc?

 In addition to offering you great content with insights that directly link your lifestyle, not only with your energy levels and health but with your whole-life performance and success, we’ll be delivering;

Imagine what would happen in your life if you got trained on all the essential aspects of your lifestyle and optimized how you live.

  • You can, one-by-one, or all-in-one with our year-round lifestyle training called PL365® that is the most inclusive and transformative training you’ll find anywhere. 

We’ll help clarify your imagination in future messages about what’s possible with Performance Lifestyle Training.

So if you want to…

  1. Resolve the hidden lifestyle challenges, such as fatigue, get your energy back and start living with optimal energy levels.
  2. Evolve with a new mindset and skill set so you can begin living in balance with vibrant health and peace of mind, 
  3. Achieve even your most ambitious goals by thinking and living like an athlete in life and at work with the potential inspiration of endurance sport. 

You are in the right place.