This post is part of our 2016 Lead Change Group Guest Blogger Series. Today we are pleased to share a post from leadership coach and author Kimunya Mugo.
This was completely new. Waking up every morning was a major struggle. It was like someone glued my eyes shut every night. My mind was tired, my body wrecked and my spirit crushed.
For two months, I survived through life. Even my most pleasurable activities like writing felt like swallowing. All I wanted to do was… nothing actually! It was frustrating and confusing. Let me just say I wasn't particularly fun to be with.
At my wits end, I began to talk about my frustration with my wife, then a few friends. One, a psychologist, gave me a damning verdict.
“You are experiencing burnout,” he said.
What? I thought burnout was for stressed-out employees. I continued to lie to myself that strength and fortitude lay in me. However, my research that evening confirmed my worst fear. I was exhibiting all the classic symptoms of burnout.
How did I find myself in the quicksand of burnout? I had lost focus of my life's purpose. I had buried my head so deep into developing my business that I forgot to take care of other aspects of my life. Just then, I looked up at my whiteboard. There, glaring back at me, were the five words that summarized my purpose: Live, Love, Lead, Leverage and Legacy.
"The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
I could not agree more with Albert Schweitzer. My focus had blurred into selfishness. And in that darkness, I had lost my purpose.
Real life is about the small things that, when brought together, bring us fullness. By focusing on only one area of my existence, everything else broke down. I was too busy to exercise or eat well. My alarm bells began to go off when I developed stress sores in my mouth. They were a painful reminder of how deep into the woods my life had gone.
Building a new business is no easy feat. I spent more and more hours developing content for my blog or courses. For me, I draw a lot of energy from my family. Relating well with my wife and children invigorates me. However, I was progressively spending less time with them. My energy banks were depleted while my love for life dissipated like a mist in the sun.
In my desire to win at my business, everything else took a break. I was so "focused" on myself that I forgot all about one of my key pillars: leadership. The few clients I had were not receiving the attention they required. Sometimes, I felt like my family was a bother. “Don’t they see how hard I am working to provide for them?” I lied to myself. Then I remembered a quote that sobered me up: “Whomever thinks they are leading but has no followers is only taking a walk!"
The quality of anyone’s life is a reflection of meaningful connections with other people. So deep was I buried my busy-ness that I completely neglected to nurture those relationships. Note that I did not mention anything about networking. In reality, my business suffered. I should have focused on deepening my existing relationships. Looking back, that could have helped me deal better with my burnout.
"What am I leaving in the people I engage with?” I asked myself. If the focus in on me, then is life worth living? I’d like to believe that everything that I do has a purpose. And that is to make people’s lives better. I always want others to be inspired and grow. To help them along their journey to character and faith. And here I was messing up what I had already done by losing sight of my purpose.
"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”~ Thomas A. Edison
As I reflect on these words, I can’t help but shudder at a life without purpose. Or a business that just drifts along in its busy-ness. Or a community that exists just because no one is rocking the boat. It was my rude awakening.
Kimunya Mugo is a leadership coach, communication specialist and author. He helps motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy. You can follow more of Kimunya on his blog.