Courage and Vulnerability – A Client’s Journey

A few of my coaching clients have brought to our sessions their concerns about the increasing pressure in their organizations and their employees experiencing stress and burnout. They are often more concerned about their employees having these negative feelings than they are about feeling the pressure themselves.

One very senior leader was especially concerned. She came to one of our sessions with yet another potential case of burnout – exasperated she asked “how can I make them realize this is just a job and not worth their health?” Her concern was not the potential of having another staff member off sick; it was that people were stressing over things that weren’t being demanded of them.

Over the course of the session she shared with me a time in her early career where she had felt this way and admitted she probably would have been diagnosed with burnout if it were now. She spoke of her perfectionism, her feeling of responsibility and not being good enough hence wanting to prove herself, of being scared and feeling fragile, of questioning herself and her career choice. The anxiety and fear was palpable even now as she spoke. And then she remembered the turning point – her realization that doing the best she could was good enough. I could feel the acceptance and compassion easily replacing the stress.

“What if you shared that with your team?” I slowly and softly asked.

“What? Tell them I had burnout?” she replied. “Less about the burnout and more about the emotional process and turning point to having a healthier approach to work” I clarified.  I remained silent to let her contemplate it.

It would take great courage to share the vulnerability of that emotional journey with her team. And imagine the impact!