GLOBAL PROVINCE - Home - About This Site - Agile Companies - Annual Reports - Best of Class - Best of the
- Big Ideas - Brain Stem - Dunk's Dictums - Global Wit & Worldly Wisdom - Gods, Heroes, & Legends -
Infinite Bookstore  - Investor Digest - Other Global Sites - Poetry & BusinessScenes from the Global Province
A Stitch in Time - Two Rivers


Return to the Index of Letters from the Global Province

September 4, 2000Extinguishing Burnout

What do you think about burn-out? Had any lately?

I meet it coming around every corner. It is totally indiscriminate, striking old and young, rich and poor, urban wastrels and country cousins, businessmen and bureaucrats and bookish academics.

Twenty or thirty years ago I gave a speech in Pensacola, Florida. On the dais with me was a local prophet who disgorged volumes about stress. "Gosh," I said to myself, "We are really in trouble if stress has emigrated to Pensacola."  Well, now I know. It has. It is an even more pervasive epidemic than Lyme Disease, asthma, or obesity. If Will Rogers were alive today, we would be calling him Worry Rogers.

Anything you can think of causes stress. That's what Hans Selye taught us about the stress syndrome. It's the disease with a 1,000 fathers: it's the disease with a billion children worldwide all suffering from burn-out.

But I would cast a vote for two major catalysts. Our political leaders--from Bubba on down--are pretty dysfunctional, and they have been able to spread stress in their wake.  At the same time Technology with a big T has been more disruptive than Clayton knows: we have not been able to successfully integrate new, alien technologies into our lives. We call them "friendly," but they are not.

Enough, however, about burn-out and its causes. That kind of discussion only increases our pain and stress.

What to do? I talked with my house painter this morning and we agreed it helps to put more craft into your job. For at least 10 years we have been doing a lot more, but we have not been doing it better. Doing less and doing it terribly well breeds a sense of purpose which, marvelously, causes us to levitate and rise above the tension.

Secondly, some of us think we need to make some big moves. Ever since the end of the Cold War the nation has been engaged in an exercise in incrementalism, even on the business front. The current administration has been diligently fertilizing the weeds. We need to do a few big ideas.

That's why in Leading the Revolution, Gary Hamel has come out for big-time innovation. He says that the value of process improvement has pretty much run its course, and it is time for real originality.

Which brings us to this week's Dictim--MTV plus Cops and Robbers. In short, we think good business and good government now consist of coming up with a clear, big idea, expressing it vividly and simply, and acting on it with dispatch.

Tell us if that will help you get over your burn-out and brownouts (we are in for more utility blackouts since the whole electric system is really in a muddle). Quality mixed with a little climb up Mount Everest.

Back to Top of Page

Return to the Index of Letters from the Global Province

Home - About This Site - Contact Us

Copyright 2004 GlobalProvince.com