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  • Writer's pictureRyan Skimmons

What Does Burnout Mean to You? (or "What's Your Burnout Style?")

The idea of burnout is getting talked about quite a bit these days. Everywhere you look, there are articles, videos and lectures about how to combat burnout. We're told that we need to engage in self-care, mindfulness, yoga, breathwork and more. Regulating the nervous system is, in fact, paramount to our health when dealing with burnout or any kind of trauma. We know the power of regulating the vagal nerve to bring your body into alignment when facing the stressors of our busy lives. All of this is correct and necessary and known.

What most of the people talking about burnout seem to miss is that it can look very different for each of us, including the driving forces behind it. For some, we might be pushing ourselves so hard because of a drive to succeed. Others may be so service-driven that they're afraid of letting others down (therapists, I'm looking at you). And what about those who are so driven by the fear of looking foolish that they log long hours of research and data-gathering to ensure accuracy?

We often work with clients around improving communication by utilizing their DISC style, specifically using the Take Flight model wherein each style is equated with a bird. Dominant is Eagle, Interactive is Parrot, Supportive is Dove and Conscientious is Owl. It's a lot of fun and a great way to help people feel connected to their profile. One of the important aspects of the birds is the drivers associated with each DISC style.

Eagle is driven by success and fears failure.

Parrot is driven by being well-liked and fears rejection.

Dove is driven by consensus and fears creating instability (or more work for other people).

Owls are driven by accuracy and fear inaccuracy.

Take Flight with DISC
The aforementioned birds

So if we know this about each style and we're thinking about burnout specifically, perhaps an appropriate question is "what's your burnout style?"(full disclosure - I have to give credit for this phrasing to a supervisor who offhandedly asked it while in conversation). If each style has its drivers and fears, thinking about these fears can be informative in terms of WHY we're all working so hard and getting burnt out. Are you an owl? Maybe you're really uncomfortable with inaccuracy so you're busting your behind to cross your T's and dot you I's. Eagle? The consequences of you cutting corners is failure. Better work harder.

Assessments like DISC can be incredibly informative to help us understand ourselves and others with some hard data. Everyone yearns for self-knowledge. We all love a Buzzfeed quiz. Who doesn't want to know which Hunchback of Notre Dame character they are? Certainly not me (I'm a total Esmerelda). Assessments (real, research-backed ones) are FANTASTIC tools to get actionable data that you can use to improve a whole range of domains. But they're often only used for a really narrow range of applications.

Hunchback of Notre Dame
Ryan = Esmerelda

So what other stories does the data tell you? Does it give you information on what's making you work so hard that you're feeling burnt out or starting to experience compassion fatigue? When we have that knowledge of what drives us and what we fear, we can begin doing the REAL work of making lasting, effective change. When we coach clients, we always work to define values, drivers and fears so that we can get to the core of where change needs to happen. Otherwise, we'd be wasting everyone's time by just beating around the bush.

If you're interested in learning more about your communication style, burnout style or values and how you can use that knowledge to make the changes you've been longing for, reach out to us for a chat.

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