Exhausted Leaders

Tired ManOne of the biggest challenges most leaders face is exhaustion. It’s one thing to be exhausted at the end of a long, hard day, but then have the time and resources to re-energize. It’s quite another to begin and end every day exhausted. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be the norm for too many leaders.

What does it mean to be exhausted? According to Dictionary.com, to exhaust is “to drain of strength or energy, wear out, or fatigue greatly, as a person.” I would imagine that not many leaders would admit they feel drained of energy, worn out or fatigued. Most leaders tell themselves they are doing OK because they are keeping up with their schedule; after all, isn’t being overbooked and tired one of the signs of successful leadership?

Here are some warning signs of being exhausted:

  • You have trouble concentrating or staying focused on what you are doing. I know this is a challenge for persons with dyslexia, ADD or ADHA. But even those challenges could be used as an excuse to over extend yourself as a leader.
  • You find yourself falling asleep when doing something like reading or listening to someone. You are so tired in body, mind and spirit that sleep overtakes you whenever you sit to read or listen (or when you think you can get away with it).
  • You have trouble with digesting your food, which results in heartburn and upset stomach. Talking about all they cannot eat because they get heart burn, or the different types of antacid they take, seems to be a sign of a hard-working leader these days!
  • You have trouble falling asleep and sleeping through the night. Thinking about all you did not get done makes falling asleep difficult. After finally falling asleep, you awaken long before you want to because your mind is working overtime or your body is so tired it becomes restless when it should be resting.
  • Painkillers are among your closest companions. Whether in your car, office, home or on your person, they are always handy for constant aches and pains you are fighting. The most common pains are headaches, backaches and a tightening of the shoulder and neck muscles.
  • You are losing or have lost your sense of humor. When you are living in a constant state of exhaustion you can no longer laugh. Not only have you lost your sense of humor you do not appreciate the humor of others around you anymore.
  • Rest, relaxation and play is difficult and feels like a waste of time. You hear others say things like, “Spending time with you is not as fun as it used to be.” Or, “You are not as patient as you once were.”
  • You are sick with the cold or flu on a regular basis. You are exhausted, which leads to the breakdown of your immune system, making you vulnerable to illnesses. Lack of sleep and rest, and not eating properly all add to your vulnerability to sickness. Wayne Scott Anderson, medical director of Take Shape for Life, tells us, “Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your ‘risk of viral infection.’”

The sad thing about leading as an exhausted leader is that you end up underperforming, and both you and those you lead pay the price.

I want to encourage you to re-read the warning signs and see if even one of those has become a regular part of your life. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to admit that you are an exhausted leader; it may be the healthiest thing you can do for both yourself and those you lead.

Next week we will explore what you should do to overcome your exhaustion as a leader.

If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at errol@errolcarrim.com to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.

Photo credit: Nicolas Nedialko Nojarof via Foter.com/ CC BY-NC-SA