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Goering Center news: Experiencing burnout?

Ask these three questions to help you fall back in love with your business

By Clay Mathile and Joni Fedders

What happens when we fall out of love with our business? What do you do about burnout?

It's a common question that is understandably hard to answer as a president, partner or owner. And both Clay and I have helped leaders wrestle with this thorny issue in our Course for Presidents at Aileron for years. When we go into battle for our big dreams, there are usually casualties of war. It’s common to sacrifice time, hobbies and even our work culture in the pursuit of something bigger. And along the way, we can even fall out of love with our business.

So how do we get reoriented? How do we rekindle a love for our work and purpose? We go back to the basics and ask ourselves these three questions.

1. What do I need from my business?

When we're building a business, we're busy growing a customer base. We're constantly asking what our customers, employees and partners need. We're adjusting, iterating and creating. This is expected and normal. It's a sign of a strong leader to consider others.

But many of us need to remember that it's good, healthy and necessary to consider our own needs, too. These could be everything from financial to emotional. We may need a certain amount of profits for our family and our future. We may need a feeling of success or achievement. We may need more time away from our business or accountability from those around us.

Whatever you need, make a list and make it visible. When we merge our needs with the needs of those around us, we create a win-win for our entire organization.

2. What do I need from my team?

It can be hard to express what we need from those around us. Even the question itself can feel selfish, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Everyone on your leadership team has needs. But whether or not it’s OK to communicate them openly is often up to you.

Starting this conversation can be tricky and may feel awkward at first. It’s easy for us as leaders to make assumptions about how people may respond if we open up and share our needs. But part of falling back in love with your work is being honest with your team. They play a critical role in helping you not only accomplish what you need to do, but feeling satisfied with how you're doing it. Everyone inside your organization will be imbued with a sense of contentment, satisfaction and clarity.

When you open up to your team, you’re inviting them to do the same; courageous leaders instill courage in others. And people love feeling like they’re a part of a dream team.

Check out this related article, “Entrepreneur Burnout: Get Professional Help To Deal With Burnout.

3. What are old rules or beliefs I need to let go of to avoid burnout?

Many of us hang onto old rules and beliefs without even knowing it:

I have to keep people happy.

I must be in the office by eight.

I must check email on vacation.

I can’t ask others to take on more work.

I’m the only one who can handle this task.

I’m not successful unless we’re making “x” amount of revenue.

Whatever these rules are, many of them go unspoken and many of them are outdated. This misalignment naturally produces a sense of guilt — feeling like we should be abiding by old rules but are living by different (often subconscious) ones instead. 

If you want to take a step forward in feeling confident, satisfied and content, consider the rules in your business and life. How many of them need to be thrown out? How many are obsolete? What new rules could you craft that feel aligned with your values?

Regaining or rekindling your passion is a journey. But It’s also a wonderful opportunity and should be filled with curiosity. Don’t let your feelings of doubt or confusion darken another quarter. Be honest with those around you, communicate your needs and invite others to do the same.

Your business needs you and you need your business.

Featured image at top: Joni Fedders, president of Aileron, and Clay Mathile, founder and chairman of the board of Aileron, posing for a photo at Aileron.

You can reach Joni at joni.fedders@aileron.org or at 888-880-6139.

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit goering.uc.edu.