"I am so burned-out!"
"Man, I can't take it anymore, I'm out of here!"
"This is no fun, it's wading through an endless swamp. Time to stop everything."
Those are some of the emotional outbursts I've heard over the years of working with startup leaders. The intense expression of agony and capitulation are very real and not uncommon. They are symptoms that something very serious is going on inside the souls of such human beings.
The term "burnout" is now a real medically classified disease. In less than a quarter of a century it has moved from an obscure term to a word used daily. Attention to burnout has been intense from the professionals as well as amatures. Startup founder CEOs are all too familiar with the term and what it signifies.
When your new enterprise is so difficult to manage, so disappointing and seemingly beyond the reach of the dreams of success you had at the beginning, your emotions are going to be seriously impacted.
When your emotions become damaged, you and your startup personnel are heading for burnout.
You are highly advised at this stage to see if you and your core team are suffering or headed for burnout.
The diagnostic is easy to do and well validated by MDs from reputed organizations. See the link below for a simple diagnostic test by the Mayo Clinic.
Burnout can affect your entire team of people and when a startup begins to lose key talent to one after the other, it signals deep problems that need immediate attention.
Remedies for burnout in startups call for professional help. Amateurs are not skilled enough to bring about the needed healing. As an MD doctor for help. Licensed professional behaviorists and therapists will come to your aid.
BURNOUT OPENS THE DOOR TO DOING A STARTUP
There is a positive side to burnout.
I've seen winning managers drop out of global corporations due to burnout (e.g. drowning in office politics, 24 x 7 hours managing teams of people in time zones all over the planet, enormous effort to grow sales less than 3 percent a year, endless meetings with no purpose, constant criticism from boss, peers and employees, etc.).
And I've seen such tormented people take a break, get professional help, recover and then do a startup.
Venture capitalists often welcome such talent into their offices as "executives in residence", letting them recover and find a startup to go manage. The individuals are refreshed and welcomed, and bring with them "lessons in the school of hard knocks": "This time I will do it right!"
Others I have seen buy an RV and drive with their wife to visit all 50 States in one year. They return and start looking for a startup to lead.
TOOLS AND TIPS
A behavioral expert touched base with me yesterday as part of his research into burnout. I told him I had found these to be practical and helpful to company leaders concerned about burnout in their businesses:
BOTTOM LINE: Burnout is real and seriously dangerous, to people and to companies. Startups are not immune, nor fated to end that way. Knowing how to diagnose burnout is a first step. Knowing who to contact for help is the next step. With that knowledge, founder CEOs can stay sensitive to what causes burnout and work their cultures to avoid the disease setting into their startups. People wisdom is part of what makes unfair advantages unfair.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!