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The second epidemic: burnouts?

Coaching and managing your team in times of Corona, presents you as a manager or professional with new, unforeseen challenges. The work has to go on, and there is often even more pressure than before. The organisation still expects a lot from you and your team, while you can work in a much less streamlined way. You didn't have to join the traffic jam in the morning for the past few weeks, but you were often not alone at home either. From morning to night in online meetings and managing your team and your family in between is quite the task!

It was a common complaint in the groups I coached online. Managers said: “On the one hand, there is understanding and you get all the space you need for your family. On the other hand, there is a perception that we all have plenty of time now. And so here I am being given new projects, while I am already behind on the existing ones.”

Fortunately, some relief is coming and we may slowly come out of the lockdown, but still in a very phased way and with an uncertain outcome. Perhaps we should try to learn something for ourselves from how we handle situations like this?

Working harder yet being less productive…

In late April, philosopher Tim Christiaens of KU Leuven's Higher Institute of Philosophy wrote in De Standaard: “Those who work from home are permanently on standby for work. In the long run, that is not sustainable…” And, “US figures show remote workers work three hours more per day on average, without also being three hours more productive. They no longer manage to schedule their day when it is permanently raining deadlines 'in their cubicle'. The office provided a certain footing that is now gone. If this continues, we risk unleashing a second epidemic of burnouts”.

I see employers asking a lot of their people. A recurring topic of heated debate is who is now responsible for the work-life balance: the employee or the organisation? I don't think we have figured that out yet.

More interesting than looking at who is to blame, I think, is what we ourselves actually have to learn from this. What wisdom do you have to develop and use here? That is what I want to talk to you about in this newsletter!

Christiaens says in De Standaard that we should learn to forgive ourselves when we fail to meet a deadline. That sounds obvious, but is easier written than done.I have been working for years with very committed managers and professionals with a lot of potential. Who ask a lot of themselves and keep stretching their limits. Perhaps you also recognise yourself in this? As a highly committed manager or professional, you too would like to make a difference, right? And, you too must go far to meet the demand. Indeed, to give more, to excel.

It is fantastic to be so challenged, and exactly what organisations need! As long as it is sustainable, maintainable. Not only next week, but also next year...

How do you use your 'free space'?

There is much we cannot control, by which we are influenced, which is evident in all its ferocity in these Corona times. This is precisely why it is essential to look at what we do determine ourselves. What our 'free space' actually is? The Jewish psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl writes the following breath-taking words on this subject: “Everything can be taken away from a human being except the very last human freedom – the choice in all circumstances to determine their own attitude, to choose their own path.”Frankl's basic attitude of sincere optimism, translated into 7 principles of meaning, helped him and others he shared them with survive the horrors of the camps.

The responsibility to choose our attitudes lies solely with ourselves.

Frankl had the courage to tell himself that in unimaginable circumstances. This is precisely why his wisdom and encouragement still inspires me tremendously, and hopefully you too! (Alex Pattakos has translated his 7 principles of meaning practically and invitingly in the book “Give meaning to your work”, highly recommended!)

What do actively you do yourself to find and maintain balance? But also, where do you get in your own way? ('Don't work against yourself' is one of Frankl's 7 principles).

It starts with really listening to yourself. Getting to know, fathom, understand and often, appreciate yourself and what drives you. That's what I mean when I invite you to develop and use your own wisdom.

Because, how do you forgive yourself when something inside you feels that things could always be better? If something in you precisely derives such satisfaction from striving for perfection. Then you are fighting a losing battle!

So actually it is not about “How do I forgive myself when I fail to meet deadlines?” But about “Why do I love getting seemingly impossible deadlines and meeting them anyway?” “Why do I feel so fulfilled and energised every time I can go all the way?” “Why do I love it so much when things move forward because of me?” “Why do I actually prefer not to ask others for help?

Listening to our own wisdom, our owntruth, is often an eye-opener.

Not always so simple, because at first it often feels like an inconvenient truth, we feel embarrassed. Do I even dare to admit how much I love that hard work? That I can hardly do without that kick?

The first time I dared to admit how much my work actually meant to me, especially as a woman with a then-young daughter, it was not always appreciated. It was not ok, an addiction, dependence. Well, that may be, but for me, what I can offer in my work is and will remain very fulfilling and makes me happy. So are you allowed to stand up for yourself for that? Are you allowed to live that?

Because, only when you can, when you can make space for it, talk about it and share it, do you notice that others are looking for and experiencing similar things. Then there is room to look at what you no longer want, what you may be overdoing, where you are getting stuck, where the imbalance is. Then there will be room for growth and development.


I am happy to support you in finding and using your wisdom. Either through a customised individual coaching programme. Or through a group process with like-minded people, drawing on the power and wisdom of the group and feeling challenged and supported as a result.

Would you like to have more insight into your own wisdom and utilise your 'free space' more actively? In an orientation meeting, we explore where you are now and what concrete steps you want to realise. Because of the special circumstances, I am happy to offer you this initial, introductory meeting free of charge. Entirely without obligation, of course.

If you want to take advantage of the offer for a free introductory meeting, sign up here.


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