1575 – Addressing Burnout to Become a High Performer (Again) with Jimmy Burroughes

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Founder of Jimmy Burroughes Leadership, Jimmy Burroughes.

Burnout is a common issue in workplaces worldwide, affecting both employees and leaders. However, there are ways to prevent it and build a high-performance organizational culture. Jimmy Burrows, the founder of Jimmy Burrows Leadership, shared five strategies. These include identifying unnecessary tasks, disconnecting from technology to access the subconscious, creating meaningful work, assessing five variables in your routine, and practicing self-care. Burnout can have long-term effects on your personal and professional life, so it's crucial to take action to prevent it. Implementing these strategies can reduce stress, increase motivation and engagement, and improve your overall well-being. Remember to assess your routine regularly and prioritize self-care to prevent burnout in the workplace.


About Jimmy Burroughes:

Jimmy, an ex-British Military Officer and successful global people leader, is revolutionizing team leadership. Dissatisfied with traditional methods that lead to burnout and underperformance, Jimmy devised a unique approach to create high-performance cultures. This research-based program enhances profit and staff engagement and prevents burnout. It's explicitly designed for leaders aiming to optimize their potential without compromising personal life or team well-being.

An avid scuba diver and hill runner, Jimmy divides his time between the beach and central Mexico, constantly on the hunt for new property projects alongside his partner and dog. Jimmy is transforming the leadership landscape with his diverse experience and innovative methods.


About Jimmy Burroughes Leadership:

Jimmy Burroughes Leadership specializes in aiding leaders to significantly improve their business outcomes without increasing their workload. The focus is on fostering a team culture emphasizing trust, connection, and performance. Rather than advocating for more intricate work, it promotes more innovative work by creating a supportive and cooperative environment. This philosophy roots in the belief that such a culture leads to enhanced business results and a more engaged and productive team.

Leveraging Jimmy's military and corporate leadership experience, his approach offers a novel and effective pathway to business transformation. The ultimate goal is to help leaders unlock their full potential while ensuring a balanced and fulfilling work-life dynamic.

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Josh (00:00:04) - With us right now, Jimmy Burroughes. Jimmy, you are the founder of Jimmy Burroughes's leadership. Uh, and, uh, you help build high performance leaders cultures. Uh, you are also the author of the book Beat Burnout, uh, for Ignite and, and Ignite Performance. Jimmy, it's great to have you. I should point out as well, you're a podcaster, you're podcast to our Friendless listener right now. Just do a search right now for the ways of working. Hit subscribe, uh, cuz you, if you like what you hear in this conversation, you want more, go find Jimmy. Jimmy, thank you so much for being here. Thanks

Jimmy (00:00:39) - For the invitation and the opportunity, Josh. It's great to be here. Thank you.

Josh (00:00:43) - Yes. Alright, so give us an overview of your work.

Jimmy (00:00:46) - An overview of my work. Um, you know, the, the story kind of starts at various points in history, but if I rewind the clock about five or six years, um, I was that extremely busy GM in a very, very complicated role, uh, who went through, uh, a restructure of the business, who went through a transformation of the operating model of the business, and then was hit with a legislative change that wiped out half of our bottom line in one day. And so it was kind of expected we were the cash cow division of the business, so we were expected to put that money back. And so I find myself working all the hours around the clock, um, that God was able to provide to us. Uh, I was in meetings from seven o'clock until seven o'clock, and then I would start my day job. You know, after that I was doing an M B A at the same time I was traveling overseas significantly.

Jimmy (00:01:32) - We were working in, in 81 countries. I was traveling to 20 of those regularly. And unfortunately, you know, things come to a head, uh, and what I was finding was I was getting up in the morning saying, Hmm, do I really enjoy doing this anymore? Am I able to make any difference? Is there any point to what I'm doing? Or am I just a hamster on a wheel? Uh, I was finding there were more bad days than good days. I was finding that, um, I didn't really know where the business was going because it was in this massive state of flux. Uh, and the people that I really trusted and liked were leaving the business. So that was unfortunate. Anything we tried was just being closed down because it was a very conservative risk appetite based on all the other changes that were happening. And they never, never had any rest.

Jimmy (00:02:14) - And so after doing that analysis of, well, why did I burn out? Why did I hit the wall? Uh, and realizing there were lots of other people struggling with the same thing, I thought, well, hold on. There's a, there's a thing that I can serve the world with here. So I started J B L and that became a book and a podcast essentially saying, well, what are the things that cause burnout? And how do we fix that so you can be a high performer again, and you can take your team on that journey. And as, as I've gone through the last sort of five, six years, worked with seven to 12 figure businesses globally, uh, to essentially help their leadership teams go, maybe I'm doing too much. Maybe we are doing too much and maybe we should do some different things that are gonna be, that are gonna serve us more effectively and get better results. And that's what we want, right? We want better results, better engagement, happier people, and able to go home at the end of the day and still have the energy for our families and our kids and all of the things that we love to do

Josh (00:03:06) - As a leader. And we want to be sensitive to our organizations. Um, and I wonder how many of the principles of preventing burnout are gonna be fairly applicable to all people versus, you know, we're gonna have different personality types, we're gonna have different levels of, you know, stamina or what, however you wanna describe it, resiliency, um, you know, you know, how do we, you know, implement policies I think are gonna be a little bit more friendly to being, you know, acknowledging our, our, our teams and our own, our own mortality versus, you know, where we really need to customize policies and solutions for a, a wide range of people's capacities. How, how do, how do we thread that needle?

Jimmy (00:03:59) - Yeah, no, that's a really great question. And let me ask you a question in response and also all of the audience a question. Um, are you a human, Josh?

Josh (00:04:06) - Mm, my last time I checked,

Jimmy (00:04:09) - Yeah. And I'm guessing most of the people listening are probably humans. And I'm certainly, well, a, according to reference points, I'm a human. And everything that we do is focused on human first. So it's not about, you know, we, yes, we do have good level different levels of stamina. We do work in different industries, we have different backgrounds, different educations, but we're all essentially human beings. We're all wire the same way in terms of our re our brain's reactions to how we interact and act in certain situations. And what we found through doing the neuroscience that sits behind the book and all the stuff that we do, is that actually what we are relying on as professionals in organizations is a very small step above the caveman. Uh, so we are running away from the sabertooth tiger, and we're trying to be part of a tribe.

Jimmy (00:04:56) - Uh, and when, when you start to realize that that's basically what's driving the majority of our behavioral patterns, you can start to interact with those in a more effective way. And so, you know, the stresses of, have we got enough budget? Have we got enough, um, resources to go around? Is there enough time? We're running outta time. There's too many priorities. I'm overloaded. People keep leaving my team. I'm really struggling to get my deadlines done. They're all what we call scarcity responses, which is the sabertooth tiger at the front of the cave. And we all have to try and rally around and fight that. Um, equally, when we, when we're doing something, you know, we are driven by that need to do something that's important, meaningful, and is making a difference. That's the purpose conversation. So even though as an organization, you might be saying, well, we've got different people from different backgrounds and different diversities, uh, groups and, and different ethnicities, or whatever it is you want to say, we're still all wired like cavemen.

Jimmy (00:05:50) - And so what we do is we get down to the, the, the neurological and the evolutionary responses that create behavioral change, that sit below the education and the intelligence and all those things. And we work there. And that what we see is, is bubbles up into an impactful behavioral and significant performance change in organizations. And so, you know, you can go into an organization as a consultant and focus on revenues and margins and KPIs and productivity, but if people are burned out, it won't make that much difference. You might get a five to maybe 10% change in your performance over the course of a year. What we are looking for is significant, uh, change, but over a period of time. So it's that 1% change daily, which leads to a 38 x improvement by the end of the year, and we're compounding change on top of itself.

Josh (00:06:34) - Yeah. Um, Jimmy, when we're thinking about ourselves and maybe as a leader, we are at that point where we're just exhausted. How do we know that there are changes that we need to make to our day-to-day or maybe just where our focus is versus you just need a vacation?

Jimmy (00:06:57) - Yeah. Yeah. Um, I often get asked this, now what if we, we just sign people off on sick leave, right? Or they'll just take a, take a two week vacation and, you know, if if we, if we use the metaphor of, uh, you're standing outside in the rain and, uh, you come inside and you go outside and it's still raining, you're gonna get wet again, right? Uh, the reality is burnout and the people who are struggling with it are in the same position and in, and in the book and in our body of research, downtime is the last chapter of the book because, you know, it doesn't matter if you come in and dry off briefly, if you go out and it's still raining, you're still gonna get wet. So we need to do all of the other things first and identify where am I sitting at?

Jimmy (00:07:40) - And the, the, the other analogy we use is, do you remember in the old 1980s ghetto blasters on stereo systems? You had like the graphic equalizer, uh, and you, you gotta believe it, or yeah, you could die, or the treble or the mid-level. Well, so the book is laid out in, in, in a kind of similar way. If you are in the positive zone on that variable, then you are moving towards high performance. If you're in the negative zone in that variable, you are increasing your likelihood of burnout. If you're in the negative zone in three of those variables, you have a very high chance of burnout. And we've got five variables. So yes, downtime could be, well actually, I get a lot of time off to rest and relax, but that's only one. Right? So we've got another four that we've gotta assess and look at.

Jimmy (00:08:18) - So my recommendation on this is we'll have a look at yourself in terms of what's the level of purpose that you're working towards. Have you got an aligned sense of purpose across yourself, your role, your team, your organization? Uh, are you more abundant than, than scarce? Are you running scared all the time? Are you in the fight or flight reaction all the time? Is that that, that, that challenge for you? How well connected are you to your tribe, your team, your plan, your business and your development? Are you exploring and innovating and creating? Or are you the hamstone and wheel delivering and delivering, delivering? And do you get some downtime? And if we can look at those variables, then you might say, well, actually, I am really, really busy, uh, and no, taking two weeks off is not gonna fix this.

Josh (00:08:55) - Yeah. And is there anything that you recommend doing? Like let's say that listen, vacation is not an option right now. We're on a big push. I, I feel, I, I feel I've been burning. The reality is historically, yes, I've probably been burning the candle at both ends a little bit too much. But here I am and I am just spent mm-hmm. , uh, what can I, is there anything that I can do today so that I can get through the next couple of months or the next few weeks? Uh, so that I can see this through all the way through? I, is it a shift of focus? Is it, uh, you know, something that, uh, you know, we, we have, um, you know, just self-care things that maybe we could do throughout the day? I don't know if you get down in the weeds, you know, too much of this, but, uh, you know, I'm just, I'm sensitive to someone who might be feeling a little bit of burnout today. Is there anything that they can do maybe today that, that might make the rest of the day work a little bit better for them?

Jimmy (00:09:53) - That's such a great question, and yes. Um, I'll give you three because, um, I like threes for some reason. I think threes seem to work pretty well, . Um, let's start at each end of the book and then we'll go on one in the middle as well. Um, so n number one is, well, no, before I even get there. First of all, if you are really struggling with that, I feel for you, I've been there. I know it's painful and sometimes it's really hard to see the wood for the trees. And so yeah, let, let's try and help. Number one would be, um, what we call a spotlight effect. So we tend to think as leaders who are highly driven, highly engaged, highly passionate, and have high performance anxiety. So we're the, we're the ones that drive ourselves to burnout because we need to deliver, we have to deliver.

Jimmy (00:10:33) - Um, and we see a sense of failure if we don't. Um, actually people aren't thinking about you as much as you think they are, and people don't care about you as much as they think they, as, as much as you think they do. So the spotlight effect is like you're standing on the stage in the spotlight and you think all the attention is on you, and so you have to deliver. And mm-hmm. , I want to give you that permission to release that belief that actually people are far more concerned that everybody's watching them, uh, and thinking about them than they are thinking about you. So you can just release that tension a little bit, which really helps. Um, the second one would be, uh, uh, uh, in the, in the, the first piece of the, the book, which is all about purpose. And we actually give the first think purposes such an important thing for people to get right.

Jimmy (00:11:19) - But it's a very simple exercise with, um, am I really clear on the purpose of everything that I'm doing? And what we normally see is it falls into one of three categories. Yes, I'm a hundred percent clear, and I know the difference it makes, uh, some, the second one would be, no, I'm not really clear on the purpose of this, and I'm not really clear on, on the difference it makes. Well, then there's a conversation to be had. And the third category would be, I have no idea why I do this. And I'm not sure what difference it makes. I just do it . And to me, they're the, they're the opportunity to go, well, what if I just stop doing that? And let's see if anybody notices. Uh, and a a great example that, uh, I often use in, in sort of keynote speeches and things is when I took over, uh, the recruitment for a, a, a, a large bank in New Zealand, um, we had a, a, a dashboard report that we would religiously produce.

Jimmy (00:12:05) - It took two days a month to produce, and we would send it out to all the business. And we knew that it was reasonably inaccurate, but it was the best we had. So I just said, well, stop doing it and see what happens. And then I went round to all the senior leaders in the business and said, I stopped doing that. Does it make a difference? And they said, well, no, we didn't read it anyway, so it doesn't make any difference. So we were committing two days a week. That's 10% of your, you know, working days of the month, uh, to a report that nobody even read. So what's the purpose of you doing it? And is it your, are very clear and you know the difference it makes you are ambiguous about it, have a conversation or you're not clear, maybe stop doing it.

Jimmy (00:12:35) - Hmm. Um, the last one would be, uh, something from the downtime chapter, which is taking a little bit of time out for working on the business, not working in the business. And often, again, when we're on the hamster wheel, we end up in a situation of we can't stop and think. And we did this with a, a very large organization, um, couple of million employees, and we were working at the senior, senior end of their, um, their organization. And we said to them, take 20 to 45 minutes once a week with a notebook. Leave your phone, leave your laptop, go somewhere else, and just sit and see what comes up. Uh, and what we're actually asking them to do is access the, the subconscious TV channel in their brain. And the interesting thing about your brain is it can either watch the problem solving, curious, innovative, intelligent TV channel, or it can access the daydreaming subconscious TV channel.

Jimmy (00:13:24) - And it's that same TV channel you access when you're in the shower and suddenly something comes to you or you're doing the dishes and suddenly you solve a problem or you've been wrangling with that problem and it bubbles up at three in the morning, um, and you suddenly go, ah, I know the answer. So we want you to access that piece. And what we saw with the leaders who we, we, we challenged a lead a leadership group to do this, and those who said, eh, no, I haven't got time for that. I'm super busy. You know, I've got 5,000 employees who report to me and I get 2000 emails a day, and I'm, I'm way too busy to take 20 minutes out once a week. Over the course of the 12 months, we work with them. Those people burned out, they dropped off the program and they left the business.

Jimmy (00:14:00) - They also were ranked lower in the talent spectrum at the end of the year. Those who took the time out, um, made better decisions, were more engaged, had better health stats, uh, were ranked higher on the talent matrix. And it was because they had those 20 to 45 minutes just thinking, what should I be working on right now? Um, you know, what are the things that are important and which is the most important thing for me to get back to the office and do versus doing all the things. And over the period of the year, we really saw the difference start to, you know, that divergence of capability. It's very easy when you are really busy to stay busy versus going, let's just hop off for half an hour, 20 minutes to 45 minutes and just take stock of the situation. And sometimes just sitting there with a notebook doodling, thinking about nothing, just looking out the window, accesses that TV channel in your brain that is, allows everything else just to slot into place and you see things that you wouldn't see when you're focusing on the, the the conscious TV channel.

Josh (00:14:59) - Yeah. Um, Jimmy, how do you work? Your website is Um, and, and when somebody goes there, I, well, well ex explain like how you're working with individuals, um, leaders and, and organizations.

Jimmy (00:15:13) - Yeah. So we have two offerings, um, that we, we share with the world. Uh, number one is what we call our Ways of working program, which is essentially a three module program for leaders to go through with their teams, which is bookended by a diagnostic. So we do a diagnostic, we work out what is going on in that team, and then we have three modules align, accelerate, and Sustain that we take the team through. They take three full days or six half days to go through those three modules. And during the course of those, um, modules, essentially what we're doing is having facilitated conversations in a room or virtually that allow the team to build trust, connection, and purpose with each other. And that we see starts to grind the wheel of, um, of performance. So give you a very simple example. What is the purpose of this team existing?

Jimmy (00:15:58) - Let's get clear on that. Cause when we know, when everybody's clear on the purpose of the team, priority dec set priority, making, decisioning re resource allocation effort is more aligned. Uh, and so that works really effectively. Uh, one of the sustained conversations would be, well, what's, um, what are some of the barriers that we might have in terms of unconscious biases? Is that gonna trip us up down the track that we have a conversation around that? So they're all conversation led. Uh, and then at the final end of the program, we do a second diagnostic, which is mapping the change of the team's, uh, engagement performance over the period of time. So that's the first way is that's more of a B2B offering, uh, where we go into businesses and we partner with senior leadership teams, so tiers one to five normally in large organizations. Uh, and that's a large sort of, anything over 10,000 people is generally where we play.

Josh (00:16:46) - The

Jimmy (00:16:47) - Other, um, offering we have, if you are in a smaller business or you, you, you just want something for yourself, is we run a global leadership mastermind. So on a month, on a monthly basis for 90 minutes, we pull in leaders from all of our B2B clients, but also individuals who are just needing to connect into a network of people who are going through similar stuff to them, and they can have a conversation about a typical problem. So yesterday, uh, last, last month, we talked all around, uh, connecting with the person, not the position first. So it's like, how do I actually connect at a human level versus with their job title? Um, we've talked about, uh, neurodiversity, we talked, we've talked about all sorts of things. We have, I think we're two years into the Mastermind now, and the following is really strong because what normally we find is, you know, we've got somebody from the hotel industry, somebody from the insurance industry, and somebody from construction going, oh my God, I have all these problems and I'm really rambling with it, and nobody else has these problems.

Jimmy (00:17:41) - And then they come along to the mastermind, they're like, oh my God, everybody's struggling with these problems, right? We can all help each other. And it's a really high value community because we try and encourage the people within the community to connect and support each other. So one of the things that in each of the mastermind sessions is a hot seat where people can go, oh, I've got this problem. What do people think? And we coach each other, so we answer each other's questions and we support each other. So they're kind of the two big thing. The two ways that people can, can, can work with this, either b2b, you and your team will take you through it. Um, the big advantage of that one is if you're doing great stuff, we validate you in front of your team and you have the conversations that are gonna accelerate.

Jimmy (00:18:18) - Uh, if you are maybe not confident enough to lead those conversations, or you need a bit of support as a leader to enable those conversations to happen. Maybe you are in a new team or you've just restructured, or there's some, some cultural challenges. We support you. So we're gonna build your capability by showing you a good example, but also showcase the moments where you can really shine. So they're, they're the two advantages. If you are that leader who is feeling like they're just under pressure, they haven't got the support internally, maybe the mastermind is for you.

Josh (00:18:45) - Yeah. And, and your book as well, beat Burnout. Uh, ignite Performance. Ignite Performance, the Leader's Playbook for Building High Performance Team Culture. Yeah. Uh, that's also available at your website. Uh, Jimmy, anything else? Uh, you know, obviously we talked about the podcast as well, which you can hit subscribe. It's called The Ways of Working. Uh, anything else we miss in terms of next steps? For someone that's been listening to our conversation,

Jimmy (00:19:10) - Please reach out on LinkedIn. And I'm very active on LinkedIn. I really enjoy a good conversation. Um, you know, I say I'm all about human connection, so if people are just wanting to find out more, they want to hop on the Zoom call, they want to chat and learn, um, I'm very open to those conversations because I think that's where the magic happens. And if nothing else, you know, even if we don't work together, my goal is for you to walk off any conversation with me having taken something of value away that you can walk back into your office and go, we should be thinking about this. Uh, that's my goal in every conversation. So, um, open to those chats, open to the conversations, and, you know, if we can, uh, if, if we can find a way to support each other through this and, and stop people burning out and help people be high performance, then I've achieved my life's purpose, and that's the goal.

Josh (00:19:54) - All right, Jimmy Burroughes again, you build high performance cultures. You're the founder of Jimmy Burroughes's leadership found on the Uh, lest anyone think, uh, you know, and not understand or appreciate your level of authority and influence, you've worked with leaders within Google, Samsung Bank of America, hs, HSSBC, Lego, uh, Dyson, and many, many, many, many others. You could see, uh, uh, quite an impressive roster of clients that, that you've been able to work with. Jimmy Burroughes, thank you so much for joining us.

Jimmy (00:20:27) - Thanks, Josh. Really appreciate the time. Thank you.

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