The Future of Work & Wellness Series with Duncan So, the Director & Co-founder of The Burnout Clinic, Technologist and Humane Tech advocate.
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Anna: So I wanted to interview you about your top five habits that you as a high-performer deployed to stay burnout free.
1. Walking to destress, ground and lose weight
Duncan: Oh, okay. Sure. The first one is walking and I’ve learned this the hard way because this was the first thing I did when I actually burnt out. So I burned out around 2011, 12, and during that, I obviously had zero mindfulness, didn’t do any meditation, any of that. And I started off with walking and I do that every day. It’s sort of a daily habit and not just as great for your stats and calorie count and all that great stuff, but it helps you to stay in the parasympathetic nervous system. As long as you’re looking at the things around you and not staring at your feet. Generally, when you come back from a walk you feel great, right? So especially when we’re feeling tired, and fatigued.
On the flip side for me, when I went through burnout, there was a little bit of an identity crisis.
That’s happening now with the Great Resignation [00:01:00]. And so when you’re sort of really down and depressed and you’re questioning your lifestyle, “No, I’m not doing so well”. Walks are always a great, easy, low resistant, low-impact way to start, not just releasing stress, but it’s really great for weight loss as well, because we also know that some people who do struggle with burnout lean on stress eating as a crutch.
And so if they’re wondering how do I do weight loss as well? I’m going to have no extra bandwidth. Do you want me to hit the gym? Do all this type of stuff? I’m like, hang on, hang on. Let’s just focus on the recovery first. Start with walking and it does all that. Has all of these great benefits. So that’s my number one habit. I generally recommend it for everybody.
2.The power of journalling
And then number two is, again, I go from more of the simple stuff to the more advanced stuff, but number two is journaling. So, if you’re not a practitioner of mindfulness or meditation, you’re not there yet, journaling is great. Generally, especially for those who are struggling with some sort of mental health challenge, emotional health challenge, journaling is a really great way to rebuild rapport with yourself.
In [00:02:00] my world of clinical NLP Dr.Milton Erickson always says that all the health conditions, where they come from, is us losing rapport with ourselves. So rebuilding rapport and using journaling is a great way to self-reflect and just have a conversation with yourself. And so for those who don’t do that and struggle with things like mental chatter and high anxiety, you would start to reap the benefits of journaling because once you write it down, it’s not invisible anymore, you actually feel heard through yourself.
Journaling is a really powerful tool. And also you can start adding all those questions to be more introspective. Help you to really become self more self-aware of some of the things. What are the self-sabotaging activities or decisions you are making on the day-to-day? You can start using that as a way to make slow and steady shifts. So journaling is also a very powerful recovery habit, but it’s also a very powerful prevention habit as well.
3. Learning to be in the now
So that’s number two, and then a little bit more advanced. Then we move into actual mindfulness. [00:03:00] And you’re beginning breathing and meditation and that work as well. And so mindfulness and breathing, we both know the benefits and sort of the, again, as I call it, the neutral. We’re so good at either living in the future, everything’s expectations and anxiety, or we live in the past and everything’s a walking trauma. And so mindfulness is all about being present, right? So all these spiritual gurus always talking about being present. And I know both of us are out of a science background, right?
I’m a, before becoming a clinician, an engineer. So starting from an academic lens into my first almost decade-long career, that space and really learning the power of just being still in a time where everything’s hustle culture, everything’s go, everything’s that dopamine hit. This is a skill, I wish this was something that our parents taught us, elementary school taught us. So if you don’t have that habit today, I’ll definitely recommend bringing in mindfulness. And obviously, breathing comes with that because if you breathe. You know, you’re aware of your breath and [00:04:00] that adds amplifies, sort of that mindfulness, but took a practice.
4. Emotional release
So that’s number three, a number four is habits. Now we get a little bit more into a specialty. So there is a process that I use at the clinic, mental and emotional release. We used to call it timeline therapy because what we do is we can start to release suppressed emotions and limiting beliefs, sabotaging behaviours in our conflicts, from our neurology. So for me, what’s very useful even as a, just as a practice, but using as part of a life philosophy you know, most people are like, I want you to focus cognitively on my goals, especially for a high achiever. Everything’s always go, go, go — hit achievement. What we find in our world is it’s not about all of the optimizations and bio-hacks and new strategies and things that you do to move forward.
If you have resistance on the path, meaning as you can imagine, you can be the most pristine rocket that’s flying over the atmosphere, pumping all of that energy into the atmosphere, but if you tell yourself to [00:05:00] anchor or a parachute, that resistance can completely destroy the trajectory of where you go.
And so MER is one of those clinical practices that is heigly effective when it comes to release work. And so I use it for my clients. So all the way to the extremes of phobias and PTSD and trauma. Those things that cleared out in about, you know, 40, 40 to 45-minute session. And so obviously I do that as a practitioner, but for me, I use it on myself because every month that’s a habit. If something happens once, so I’ll just be like, oh, that’s really cool. How am I feeling? I can be mindful and start to adjust if it happens again, I’ll be like, it’s something I don’t like, what am I not doing properly? Or thinking, making the decisions properly? Or is there something I haven’t come to terms with, oh, that’s causing that. And if that happens a third time, I go straight to MER.
Right. Because at that point as more of a pragmatist, I just go, okay, this is this not waste my time. It’s just clear that from my nervous system and in reality it unfolds just like the work of NLP neuro-linguistic programming you know, a prime part of that is not just [00:06:00] effective communication. As clinical practice if you were to get from point a to B and you’re not going to see what’s stopping you and how do you clear out, whether it’s a behaviour, whether it’s some sort of thinking or emotional block. Generally if you can clear that out, then you can move back to where we need to go. And so, almost, and I know you know of agile practice as well, is that is one of the most effective ways to iterate because you can get the best feedback right down to your nervous system. So fourth habit I use once a month. I don’t do it every day and it is a power house of a tool. So once I do it, it’s more then enough for me to just clear out some of the baggage that it might have, that triggers self-sabotage.
5. Habit of building habits
Number five is habits. Habit of build habits. Because so many of us like one-hit wonders, as we do go about novelty and hustle culture and all these things. And what we realize is we don’t move over. We call that mastery, right. If we don’t go down a mastery path and everything is just that a quick fix [00:07:00] short term thinking, short term behaviors, you’ll never be able to build the mastery or the autopilot — that automatic muscle behaviors you need to walk gracefully through life. And so everything’s always like learning and everything is stressful. Trying to be a master of driving, but you’re just learning to drive. Of course we can’t do many things, but if you put your time and effort into doing those things then driving becomes effortless. And that’s why it matters.
So I make very cognizant decisions on my day-to-day on if I’m ever going to apply or implement something into my life. Is it something that I can build habits from? And if it isn’t, then I don’t do it. And that’s the whole idea of being more strategic in your life. Because if everything’s just for a novelty, wonder, especially in today’s hustle culture, especially as an entrepreneur, as myself, I don’t have necessarily that freedom sometimes to just jump around with what we call a shiny object syndrome, right? That will crush you in all areas of life because you want, you’re a high achiever.
You want to do many things and achieve [00:08:00] all these great goals at the same time. You don’t want to stop you know, and at the same time sacrifice mental and emotional wellbeing. So if you want to hustle and flow, one of the big strategies or habits that I have is making sure that I make sure everything that I choose in my life can be turned into a habit so that it makes my cognitive load a lot less.
Anna: That’s wonderful. Super insightful. I’m actually, I’m really grateful that I got to meet you. I didn’t realize that you come from an engineering background. So it’s, it’s like, you know, I feel like we get each other, we come from a similar background in tech, right? Yeah. Yeah. Everything you’ve talked about, this is a beautiful spot. And what I’m finding is looking back at you know, just being around friends who are Agile coaches and who have always really struggled with change management in the organizations. I now realize that all of that has to do more with that inner mastery of [00:09:00] these skills than what we do. It’s not taught in school, unfortunately, more so than this kind of like external fitting, you know, the round peg into a square hole organizational culture thing.
A quick follow up on what you talked about. Do you find the people you work with are then able to transfer these skills into how they lead organizations?
Duncan: Yeah. So I’ll give you sort of a secret sauce to the strategy we use in The Burnout Clinic. And so when it comes to burnout and I want to make a huge shout out to your audience as well, something to reach those who are listening to us, because you understand burnout recovery. So many people mistaken burnout prevention and recovery. Different functions, period. Right? If you want to be like an engineer, I want to be more of a practical side of things, recovery and prevention are very different practices. And so a big part of it is change management, it is required for both.
Do we want to install new prevention practices or new recovering practices? And so, you know, our secret sauce because burnout is a nasty one, right? Burnout is sort of like like racism, right. As it gets so broad, it’s a systemic it’s systemic issue. Well, that’s what I love doing as an engineer, as an engineer I’m a systems change leader. I look at changing things really from the root of where the value systems lie and look at, you know, sort of big picture change. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Pre the burnout clinic, working with groups of the United nations and the British council and you know, the world economic forum, looking at these.
Fundamental, like especially the fourth industrial revolution challenges, but flip side to that is that burnout it’s also a very individual problem just because when it comes to the anxiety, because of the fatigue, the exhaustion, the cynicism the performance efficacy, or the dark night of the soul that’s not a systemic issue. That’s actually a personal issue impacts not just your psychology is like your nervous system and all of your different human systems that makes sort of most people’s life a nightmare.
And that’s why, especially during our hustle culture today, what makes it so painful. And so the secret sauce really is, you know, what we do is we actually, because we work with HR, we work with workplace leaders is we have them focused on learning these, they aren’t just habits, but skills so that they actually recover from burnout. So that’s our key takeaway, right? Is you know, whether it’s from a clinical lens or from our coaching lens. You feel bad here. All the conditions are all the symptomology and all the energy that’s being drained after our, our, our work that has to be gone, you gotta be liberated with more mental and emotional capacity and bandwidth and energy for you to do different things.
So usually the first thing that it does, is it destigmatizes how easy recovery can be, because most people are like, you know, I, I, I loved, I was reading your Instagram, right? How do you know when you’re burning out? If you need a vacation from a vacation and that’s like a fun one that we all know about because we know that’s in our nervous system or we go to vacation where it’s still so stressed when we come back, it’s just our habits our day to day. We’re actually, not that we’re burning out, we’re actually successful at burning out. Right.
You’ve had the habits that we’ve ingrained in ourselves that are leading us towards burnout. So that’s something that we should congratulate us for. So we shouldn’t feel bad. So really our goal is how do we fail burnout? If you want to recover from burnout is how do we fail burnout? [00:12:00]
And how do you feel burnt out? And then you start moving into all these other habits you talk about. And, and, and specifically what we do at the clinic are actually born on recovery skills. We teach. So with our burnout recovery challenge in our accelerator. So they teach since every skill. So mentally, emotionally self-regulate and reclaim you know, that energy when it comes to whether it’s mental energy, emotional energy, and spiritual energy, right.
That’s the who you are. We’ll go into that with a peer resignation later. So the who you are, my purpose, I type of stuff all the way to physical energy, right? Like how does that have a relation. You know NLP is considered a psychosomatic process. So we’re a mind, body practice, how that relates to the body and how you can use a body to have an influence on your mental, emotional wellbeing in a different way.
So when leaders get this, they de-stigmatize it and recognize how easy it is and why that’s important, because one, it helps to address all of it and do individual components when it comes to burnout recovery. And now that you’ve gone through it and you’ve recovered. [00:13:00] You’re a leader. You’re the way you see, not just life, but your career or your self as a leader has changed because when someone comes to you and I have all these conversations with HR almost on a day-to-day basis is there’s a difference between trying to communicate you know, burnout, recovery, or burnout.
Sort of a policy or a strategy or an intellectual process because burnout, isn’t an, isn’t really an intellectual problem until you get down to the belief systems, right. That drive it. And so if you do all these lunch and learns and campaigns and everything, while I think it’s great as an intellectual process, we don’t need.
And everyone’s so tired, they can train themselves out of it. Right. That’s why I burn out one of the, one of my favorite you know, lines I use for burnout is burnout, eats willpower, willpower for willpower, for breakfast. And you can imagine for any type of change work generally change work requires a lot of willpower just because you want to think your way through it.
But if it’s burnout, it’s hard to think your way through [00:14:00] it. Talk to feel your way through it because you just you’re just deficient in that sense. So you have to look at your traditional change management in a very, very different way when it comes to burnout recovery. And so, you know, when leaders go through that, they change leadership style.
They’ve gone through that. Now they have the empathy, the real empathy from an intellectual level, but from an internal. On your neurological level of what porno actually really means. So they can pick up the indicators. You don’t need to run a survey. You don’t need to do all these things. That may be a great intellectual process.
You can actually have conversations and relate as a human being. And then once you have that as a leader, you can begin changing culture, not by just saying. The cultural strategy work that you sit down with HR and it’s a whole, like one, three year type of commitment. And what our program looks like is you can just do it individual one person at a time.
And so that’s our secret sauce to systemic change, right? Is we have catalyze and amplify the ability for leaders to [00:15:00] recover from burnout themselves. And they become beacons of light to inspire others for the change for that change. And if they. A whole lot of space for a DIY approach. And then obviously they can come in through a partnership with the Berlin clinic or partners like yourself, right.
To go through different practices or modalities to get back to self regulation and realize how simple it is and how liberating it is. Right? Because most of us who have gone through burnout, all know, looking back for the other side, but life becomes so transformational because you really connect to deeper purpose and.
And putting your energy to what brings you life? Right? Burnout is as a metaphor is when the flame inside is extinguishes. When you can find that flame inside again, you do not want to go back. I think not as one of the biggest takeaways that anybody who’s gone through burnout. I would say I have no regrets with that because to I transformation I’ve literally moved through years of my life of struggle and potentially suffering [00:16:00] to now really dedicating my life, focusing on the things that are really important to me.
And that’s sort of what, what drives me to do this type of work?
Anna: That’s a beautiful, I feel you. Yeah. I’m kind of in the same spot, looking back, it was difficult, but. I mean, I wouldn’t be here today. Doing cool stuff I enjoy doing if it wasn’t for that experience. So yeah, very grateful for that too.
And I think what you’re doing is beautiful too, because you are changing the workplace culture and from an angle where most people don’t expect it.
Duncan: Right. And so, I mean, our mission is not just ending workplace burnout by any global burnout. Right. Because burnout is also a big part of, it’s a mindset as well.
It’s a culture, right? It’s hustle, culture, burnout culture. And so, and, and I love it because you have a background in agile. And so as an engineer as well, you know, my background’s in computer engineering, I can imagine the date in the early days [00:17:00] where, you know, Blackberry’s still existed. Apple wasn’t even a, it was a computer and Facebook was just the webpage that was during my time of work.
Cornell was only dedicated to like doctors and nurses and social workers. And my heart goes out to them because they have a new classification called moral injury that keeps them locked in there before, you know, most of what I call the general population who goes and works in a company that has a strong digital transformation or digital trend component to it.
And has a culture of being very agile. No, unfortunately the agile methodology, and I say this as an engineer of the agile methodology, didn’t. And in fact that, you know, humans are humans are not, we’re not machines, industrialism works really well with, with technology and tools. It doesn’t really work well with humans.
And so moving forward and sort of this hustle and flow transition is, you know, how can we get humans to be more human, be more creative, more innovative, to live a, a, to learn the skills of wellbeing to perform at our best. But at the same time, I’ll leverage our agile approaches and [00:18:00] industrial.
That’s a really utilized tool at a deeper level, especially now with the up and coming fourth, industrial revolution, AI and blockchain and automation and all those things to really free up time. Not for us to do more, but free up time for us to be more creative so that we can lean in and use our tools for more return of investment at the same time tackle the more human type problems, like how to be happy in life, how to live a meaningful life how to look at bringing all parts of your life together.
So. You know, we don’t want burnout, but in all honesty as human beings, the only reason why we created tools in the first place, way back in the day was to make our lives easier. We’ve gone to a point of beyond diminishing returns where our tools are actually destroying us hence the whole social dilemma on Netflix, all that happens with a dopamine problem and engineered by the way by computer engineers and psychologists like myself.
And so we have to sort of reverse that, right? We have to understand that. And really change our consciousness around how we look at leadership moving in the future and navigating where [00:19:00] we want to be as a human species, forget the economy forecast, you know, all these different areas of of, of economic wellbeing, but how has the human speech.
We can cut it differently because if we don’t, we will go extinct. Right. I mean, we will, we will put ourselves into a mental, emotional dead hope. And when you have that type of problem, especially new metaverse coming down the pipe we aren’t just going to just be zombies, but we’re not going to be, we’re not going to be able to, you know, perform in any way that makes us feel alive anymore.
So that’s really also important to be cognizant of. For anybody, especially engineers out there, especially those aren’t technology out there to note that you to also have a stewardship or responsibility towards this.
Anna: That’s amazing. Like it, it truly is very special. We connected because what you’re talking about is something that’s near and dear to my heart as well.
You know, we were basically a sturdy living in this post-industrial [00:20:00] society where we’ve created an environment. We have no. To thrive in. So we are destroying ourselves. It’s like the self of fulfilling predicament and the moral injury aspect you talked about. Actually, a lot of my colleagues in tech are experiencing that.
And even though they don’t. Fully realize what’s going on with them. They’re basically suffering the repercussions of working on systems and building systems that they feel are now a blamed to the detriment and are bringing not so good. To themselves and other people. And one of the things I would like to do is to kind of collaborate with people in the field and put forward something like responsible tech use create awareness, I guess, of responsible tech use and how we need to build the skills to be [00:21:00] internally self-aware.
To self-regulate, but we also need to then take the skills of boundary setting, for example, into our relationship with technology. And I think that is the big part of. Essentially thriving in that post-industrial society, because I’m deeply concerned about the whole metaverse thing too. And I just feel like that’s a whole new level of challenges that the society is not prepared to deal with whatsoever.
Duncan: Yeah. I mean what automation do you see tomorrow? So, mark. So there was a program that was incubated out of engineers without borders roughly, I’ll say six years ago. And so, you know, one of the, the values challenges that we had as engineers, as technology developers was that we didn’t have the leadership or the consciousness development of consciousness for us to really.
Realized now that, you know, go back to old Moore’s law, right? That as technology doubles and doubles and doubles and doubles, AI’s by 2030, by [00:22:00] 2050, by the way, even, even now we have very little control of what it can do. And so one of the big challenges that we, we face as a human species is decision-making.
And so from a engineering lens, back in the day when I was an engineer, it was, you know, you read a manual, you follow the code and that code. Oh, say helps to save lives or it helps from things from collapsing and people from dying. Right. I’m not computer engineering with 70 different because they’ll send me a brave new world on there.
Wasn’t that code there. Wasn’t no blueprint for it. And I remember back in the day when a UX design was getting popular, it was popular. You know, there was a lot of studies coming out of Stanford, looking at sort of bringing in, not just UX design, but the use of dopamine, the use of like literally psychologists that designed casinos to turn everything from apps to software, to TAC social networking, all the way down to work managements into some dopamine hit.
And while that was, I was an interest. Idea [00:23:00] because it allowed us as human beings using psychology to do things that are very difficult to make it easier because that’s what dopamine, that’s the point of dopamine is the reward chemical that on the long-term effects has some significant challenges, especially on our prefrontal cortex and higher thinking.
That looking back as an engineer, as a developer, or even as a leader in that space. Whereas the technology, like just say, you’re, you’re, you’re a VP or director in the metaverse is you have to, you have to sit down and really wrestle with these decisions because those decisions have a cascading effect on our society.
And so w engineers without borders thing was they introduced a concept called technology stewardship. And they’re teaching that at a youth level now all the way through high school. Into university, as they knew sort of a fundamental philosophy for engineers and training to look at what the future of the engineer’s gonna look like.
But it brings also all these big problems that we’re facing in the real world today. Like what the future of work looks like, what future education looks like, what you know, the future of our healthcare looks [00:24:00] like. And, and, you know, a lot of this rolls up to leadership or rolls up to our ability, not necessarily to lead, but to make decisions.
And sometimes we just don’t make the, the longer-term decisions and has a significant impact on the short term that, you know, 20, 30, 40 years ago, it wouldn’t have been an issue. And you amplify that with the technical, the growth, but in algae we have today it can be a severe problem. And that’s what we’re facing today.
Right? Our social dilemma really is not today because whether it’s you look at all of the civil unrest that we’re getting today or the pandemic or all those different things you know, the speed of how information is moving or can be not just very distracting, but it’s hard to find sort of what that nugget of gold is.
What, what is that, what is that model of excellence we can follow and like the agile approach constantly to rate and make a lot of mistakes all the time, which is a great thing, but you fast iterate and then you compound that with amplify technology. Those mistakes can be very painful not just to yourself, but to those as a network effect around you.
And that can lead to one trauma, which is you don’t want to be trauma-informed [00:25:00] leads to that from a, from a mental, emotional neurological aspects. But secondly cleaning that up is too expensive because our low cost of making poor decisions also equates to an extremely high cost of fixing those.
That comes from a very agile consciousness, agile thinking that now moving forward, it’s not a good or a bad thing. It’s just where we’re evolving as a species is, you know, how can we bring together a more interconnectedness and how can we move into not just being more interconnected as a human, as human beings, but then taking a very systems thinking approach to applying where the right solutions need to be in the right areas and not just trying to optimize or capitalize or ex.
Everything that you touch because that will not just destroy your efforts and the outcomes you want to get, but on the bigger picture that destroys our planet. So it’s not a very good thing.
Anna: Yeah, totally. Well speaking of which, this is a good segue into the fourth industrial revolution, and of course, I think the big quit being a part of that.[00:26:00]
One of the, I guess, One of the transitional things that’s going to be happening. So what are your thoughts on that? And kind of like the challenges that it’s creating for leaders.
Duncan: Yeah. I love it. It’s a great resignation. So there’s different names for it. I called it the great reawakening. That’s sort of my language.
I go through a, I take it from a burnout lens. But the grade resignation on the great, where shuffle is very interesting, because again, it’s an example of amplify amplification through technology, essentially. Right? So, you know, back in the day again, when I burnt out and I had sort of a quarter life crisis and you know, I chose not to do is eat, pray, love, take a backpack and fly out and hope that I can get touched by God.
Right. I mean, that’s sort of the back of the. Julia Roberts style or finding your own life salvation. I want to take an engineering approach to it. A very practical sort of like can take a step-by-step approach. What are the patterns? What’s the strategies, you know, what, how can we get predictability and consistency and making these types of transcendental and transformational [00:27:00] experiences to happen?
And that’s sort of why I take a very clinical approach to burnout recovery in our clinic or the green resignation. It was meant to happen. Right. So when. Dove down into addressing a Vernal problem. It wasn’t because of the pandemic. It was literally because I ran a school at that time that helped a lot of leaders who were mission driven leaders, wanting to fundamentally change just systems, but impact the causes and communities around.
And they’ve walked around with trauma. And so the problem with that was when they project through the lens of their trauma, their pains, or hate their anger, their fear, their worry, their anxiety as a, not just an entrepreneur, which is already difficult is a social entrepreneur. You want to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social impacts.
You need to have a lot of. And if you have a lot of drag behind you, you can call your baggage your, your mental, emotional baggage, a huge coefficient or resistance, right? High coefficient. You want to lower that coefficient. And so you need to do a lot of targeted release work for that. And so the idea was when I was doing my school, I was on my third [00:28:00] cohort, doing a program called started impact journey, which now I teach at Centennial college.
It was, it was a game changer for these leaders. But at the same time, I wasn’t the clinic. I was a school. So my goal was obviously the new strategies and new approaches, the new you know, the new, the new business models and frameworks to make impact with as a, as a social change leader. And I didn’t expect that I had to deal with these deep rooted, mental, emotional challenge.
And so my wife and I decided to open up this clinic and do things differently by the way, because we knew one burnout at that point was hovering around 40% generally in the workplace led by, you know, gala poll, which does global pulling on the workplace and let the entire engagement movement, you know, the last almost two decades.
And so they doubled down the narrative of burnout. And so when we started that we moved the pandemic hit and we had done something socially innovative. I bring them to burn out. For that work because we could get essentially almost, you know, eight, nine months, if not years, if we’re not recovery type of traditional work all condensed into two [00:29:00] days.
And that’s with the benefit of our approach, call NLP neuro-linguistic programming is able to do that as we go all the way down into the structure of hunter, neurology of holds your emotions and destructive self-sabotaging beliefs and poor habits. And we S and we literally You know, scramble that within the neurology so you can access out anymore.
And that’s what gives you all that liberated energy to move forward and dedicate. And obviously our business model shifted because we couldn’t travel anymore. So I spent a significant amount of time, the last two, two and a half years working directly with workplaces less on the clinical one-on-ones, but more on the big systemic problems.
And a lot of that came into awareness. As they started I said, portal clinic, I didn’t even have conversations on burnout. Actually. I had a conversation about conversations on anxiety and mental health in the workplace because in my world, we were the pandemic. We were going through what was called a pattern interrupt.
Right? So you can, you know, most of us, we go through life almost in a massive modic trends. [00:30:00] It’s, I’m in a good way, someone in a not good way, but in a good way, it gives us a lot of structure and stability. And so when the pandemic hit, everyone was in crisis management mode. So you can imagine. I just are, we brought 40% of the workforce is feeling burnt out, but we’re going through crisis management.
Not because of work-related soft, but because of a pandemic, right. We didn’t know what it meant for, not just our career lobby votes, but our lives in general. And so 2020 was all about dealing with anxiety and I warned them. I warned the workplaces. Say if you can you’re managing crisis now. That’s great.
But if you can’t get us handle handled quickly enough, we will hit a burnout crisis in 2021. You know, here’s my magic ball, but it’s less a magic ball. It’s just not very clear trajectory. Right. A sign shows just through the indicators of burnout that you’re on a amplified path towards that. And so 2020 one hit into 2022 porno was the hottest topic.
Right. And while it was great for me and great for myself you know, I didn’t want to be the, I told you so thing, but it was one of those, like, you know, it’s not, it’s beyond, I told you, so now we really have to move into recovery. And if we’re still doing like awareness [00:31:00] campaigns on what burnout is, and not do prevention, but into recovery and it would be a lot of work.
And so that’s when the great resignation hit, right? So from I’m in the front lines, in the trenches, dealing with the scream resignation, it really comes down to true broad categories. At least from how I heard about. I looked at all the different patterns of what the green recitations stood for the big broad category.
The first one was my employer doesn’t care about my mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing. That was it. Very simple. I leave a workplace because they don’t care about these big three things. And so workplaces are not just in crisis management mode, but trying to figure out how the heck by bringing mental, emotional wellbeing in the workplace.
Having lived in a very lean agile, let’s be competitive. Everything’s go, go, go hustle. To long hours and focus in the pandemic where a life is integrated with women who, you know, they want to have kids or kids who are there, but they can’t go to school and you got to caregive or aging parents and no or isolation and poor mental health and all these different things causes big [00:32:00] implosion in the workplace of S now, knowing HR leaders, just not knowing that we’re just not equipped to deal with this beyond crisis management mode just.
Equipped to deal with how to make better human beings out of work, because, and realizing that as we industrialize our workplace, we actually make for pretty, pretty unhealthy human beings and people are leaving because of that. Right. And so now we’re still plugging the holes and probably still plugging the holes for the next three, four or five years.
Right. So that’s number one. Number two was the one that she’ll get on the news. Right? There’s people were locked down in Iceland during the. They’re challenged now is they have time for introspection, but they never did because remember Bassett gnosis means habitually or going through the day to day of doing things are familiar with.
So the idea that you had a, a pattern interrupt in your day-to-day habits, and you were to literally sit back and reflect and ask the question, and I see myself doing this for the next year, two years, three years, five years, 10 years. Most people couldn’t even see themselves doing for the next week. [00:33:00] Right.
And so suddenly in 20 end of 20, 20 and 2021 women essentially where the predominant driver of leaving the workplace and being because of the of the pressures that they got for caregiving and everything else. And it comes down to values, right? What’s most important to me really isn’t my career.
But my relationship with my family and my, on my. Well, there’s a romantic life, love life with my husband or whatever. Right. And so 20, 21 essentially set women, women parody back for probably the next five, six years, unfortunately, as the pandemic recovers. And then you move forward the year after that.
It’s just random people start, whether you’re a frontline work, whether in retail or in hospitals and healthcare, or just in tech or wherever it is. But like, wow. The idea that I don’t leave my workplace, I V I don’t leave because of bad work. I leave because of bad managers that got amplified, because they’re now stressed out, burnt out or anywhere in [00:34:00] between.
Right. And just says, I can’t do this anymore longer because if I’m mental, emotional wellbeing and you would think that during the pandemic, you would have more time to do things that you maybe were more passionate about or, or, or so forth. But most people spend more time at work because. Use the gains they got from the of not commuting to essentially have a, more of a less intense workload, but a more long workload where you’re just always working and that became painful.
Then we call that in 2021 to 2022, the work-life blur, right? The work-life blur. And now in 2022, You know, whether you call it a Deloitte or a flight global and Arianna Huffington or, or Jennifer Fisher or anybody in this source space of human development is we’re calling the idea of life, work integration, being the next big thing for the next, probably the future of work or the next three to five years, because now leaders really have to begin thinking of how, how to integrate wellbeing with performance, right?
That’s the biggest [00:35:00] challenge with change management is how to become outcomes. And it’s still be agile and lean and all those great things that they’ve invested through digital transformation, but not eat out your workforce at the same time. One because of the counter pressures on their grid resignation, which is turnover and retention, but more importantly is, you know, and this is a big sort of public service announcement I share with all our HR leaders is if someone leaves a burnt-out, it does not mean they’re not going to join the workplace with the habits of burnout.
And so, even though you, even if you can’t. Your own workplace. You gotta be careful because as they leave for the great resignation, you’re going to hire someone else. I potentially might be burned out or had gone through burnout themselves. And we’ll repeat the same nightmare in your workplace. So it’s not just a condition for the individual workplaces as a prerogative or priority to look into before all workplaces as sort of human development as a whole, not just HR in general, but human development as a whole that we need to work in because if we still value.
We [00:36:00] still have to have a GDP approach to economic gains for us as a philosophical mindset, economical mindset being in a capitalist country then, and, and even in communist countries like China, where they’re doing things like 9, 9, 6, 9 to nine, six days a week, right. You have to be very cognizant that humans aren’t machines and our machines are doubled.
Painfully onto us mentally and emotionally that we not just have to think differently to be successful. We have to think differently to survive. We’re not even not thriving yet we’re to survive. And so, so, you know, for future leaders, future of work, that really calls right now today in the green resignation attention for leaders to think very differently because if they don’t and not just themselves, they’re not going to be able to be higher and not just.
You’re going to see a side effect of your own spouse or your partner or your own kids. Right? Because gen Zed is now going full force into the [00:37:00] workplace. Millennials are screaming about this are ready and the get go. When they started trying to tackle this. Now they’re a little bit more bruised up, you can say, but now they’re the managers of this gen Zed who are very vocal and who are very kind of.
It didn’t have the intermediate sort of the interim where there wasn’t an internet, right. Millennials had that. They just got through a born with internet and smart devices. And so there, it’s almost a prerequisite that, you know, in order to survive that we need to look out for our mental and emotional health.
And take a more human, a definitely a human center approach towards it. So there is a huge demand for gen Zed and there was a huge conversion for millennials because we were all always a big, I told you, so a type of cohort and for those who are in gen X and baby boomers, who some are, by the way, are cautiously aware of this.
So it’s not an age thing as a consciousness thing. A gen is now a hold, the important mantle. Now that they’re probably in the most senior position. Senior positions [00:38:00] retire. And the most senior officers that have retired are now going through their own different life crisis of industrial way of doing and thinking was my, essentially my identity.
And now that I’m gone, and I know that what the heck was wellbeing to begin with now, they’re half the retiring with what do I do my next, you know, maybe 15, 20 years or with the latest technology and stem cell research and stuff, maybe even longer. So they too have to contend with now they’re grandchildren, right?
Who are going through this and to make sure not to share the same tragedies that they offer the world back in the day, the industrial way, and in the post-industrial way, how to take the wisdom. I, what not to do and share that with the next, the future generations and for essentially gen Xers and baby boomers.
To figure out what to do, right? So we know what not to do. We’ve got to figure out what to do. And honestly from a more practical standpoint, it will be generations that that [00:39:00] will be taking action and fixing it. And it will be probably most of the millennials will be leading through a charge being bruised and battered already.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s been an uphill climb for many of us. And then hopefully that will be a starting point to solve our problem. Because that is the only way to solve our problems. And if we can do it in batch generation, then then I kinda remember, imagine what, what what the next generation will look like.
And so forth. Fourth industrial type of thinking just be cognizant that your technologies will amplify our mental, emotional challenges to a level that is not just unprecedented, but that can actually be. Towards our mental and emotional collapse as a species. So very important, right. For the industrialists out there to take heat because important to make the right decisions.
Anna: Well, yeah, it’s kind of like we are going to have exponential abundance. We can have exponential improvements in society and we’re going to have exponential burnouts mental illness and all of this stuff. It goes both ways. Right. Yeah, I think we definitely need [00:40:00] to start developing a better relationship with technology because right now all of this tech is I think it has intrained people and society to have a certain type of relationship with it.
And this is the time to kind of paraphrase what you’re talking about to put the human back into the driver’s seat.
Duncan: And in this broad field called transhumanism, right? It’s the idea that we should be controlling technology, not the other way around. Unfortunately, technology is beginning to really control us. And it’s beyond the point of no return because even the creators of the technology can’t control technology.
And so you, you put that into Moore’s law. That can be a very scary thing, especially with AR because they’re, they’re learning, their children are now. Our patterns. If they feel that burnout is our success, all they’ll do is double down on burnout. Can imagine it not being AI, right? Like AI is intensely smart.
I can, can solve problems that are next level, but again, they need to deep learn. They need [00:41:00] data to find those patterns until they gain conscious awareness. And the patterns that they’re learning with right now are unfortunately very unhealthy. At least if they’re using data from a more of a big data, majority lens, and they’re pulling especially big data from social media then that is a huge problem.
And so, you know, again, it’s not about a, I love the 2080 rule. The parental principle always applies is we just got to do slow enough shifts that if we can clean up 20% of our data and make it more human centered and give hope to AI to learn from that. Perhaps it can lead to some really powerful solutions that we can use as human beings that we would have never have seen.
And that’s what we call AI consciousness, right? Because they can solve problems even consciously as human beings. We can’t even get to as quickly and, and really help us to solve some of these human problem, deeper human problems faster than how we’re essentially creating problems, creating more problem reaction solution loops or into our daily.
Anna: Yeah, [00:42:00] totally. I love that. I love that we have to be good parents to this AI that we’ve created. Just like we have to be good whole people, good parents to our kids. Next generations, our environment, the AI, everything.
Anna: This is super insightful.