Elements of The Entrepreneurial Mindset Series Element #8: Burnout is a Real Business Problem

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 18a
November 1, 2022

By Dan Coughlin


woman with Mental Heath Issues

People often seem genuinely shocked when they are burned out at work. They almost feel bad about losing their mojo after 25 years of pounding away constantly at work.

I usually say, “Why are you shocked? You’re not a robot or a computer. You’re a human being. You have the right to be burned out. The shocking part is that your boss never clued into what was happening.”

I’m amazed by the way bosses burn people out. Here’s a typical situation. A person is working very, very hard for very long hours each week. And then one of his or her team members quits on the spot and walks out. So instead of realizing that the employees are getting seriously burned out and lightening the load on them, the boss adds more work to the employees who stayed to make up for the one who quit. Fairly soon after that happens, more employees leave due to unrealistic stress and pressure, and yes, burnout.

With entrepreneurs, the problem is even worse because oftentimes entrepreneurs become even worse bosses to themselves than the bosses they had when they worked for someone else.

Wear Sunscreen to Avoid Sunburn, Wear Common Sense to Avoid Careerburn

For many years I’ve enjoyed going for three-mile walks several times a week. And for most of those many years I either put no sunscreen on or very little. When red blotches would appear on my face, I would laugh them off, and say, “A little burn before the real suntan comes in never hurt anything.” This went on for several years.

Then one day my wife, Barb, talked about seeing a dermatologist so I set up an appointment to go to see her. It took about 15 minutes for her to realize I had a serious problem. Several of my sunspots needed to be burned off my face. And there was a very dark spot on my nose. She tested the area, and I had skin cancer. It required a surgeon to slice my nose vertically from near the top of my nose to the tip of my nose, scrape out the cancer, and stitch my nose back up. That was a few years ago, and now I faithfully wear Sunscreen #70 every time I go outside for a walk.

What was very dangerous could have been avoided through very small steps. I thought I could get away with a macho attitude that the sun couldn’t hurt me.

Entrepreneurs sometimes think they can work 70-100 hours a week and believe it will never hurt them or their personal relationships.

Unfortunately, they are wrong. Entrepreneurs are not robots, computers, or machines. They are human beings. They burn out. And when they burn out the ramifications are oftentimes not very pretty at all: heart attacks, mental breakdowns, nervous breakdowns, affairs, divorces, etc.

Please, please, please, as an entrepreneur apply common sense to your life. You are not the owner of a business. Your title is the owner of a business. You are a human being. You have a heart, a body, a brain, emotions, a soul, and relationships with other people outside of your work.

As you put things on your schedule, apply common sense. Yes, you will have to work hard in your business for a reasonable number of hours to build a surviving and thriving business. However, if that becomes the entire focus of your life, you will not survive and thrive as a human being. And then, of course, your business will suffer immeasurably. Put things on your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule that address your business, your mind, your heart, your emotions, your body, your soul, and your relationships with other people.

You are a human being with a business.

You are not a business with an occasional human experience.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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