Jimmy Burroughes is a successful high-performance culture consultant who has visited 69 countries and lived in 12 of them. His life was not always this adventurous. It wasn’t until he suffered burnout in 2017 that he quit the corporate world to create a life by design where he can work from anywhere and live the life he wanted. 

Jimmy shares his tips for businesses to make sure their company has a culture where people can thrive and avoid burnout.

Talking Points:

{02:00} A Nomad Adventure

{07:25} The first steps to building the digital lifestyle. 

{21:35} Getting an alternative view of your business from a strategic advisor.

{25:05} When you face burnout.

{28:05} Preventing burnout with five Variables.

Resources and Links:

Connect with Tom Finn

Welcome to the Talent Empowerment Podcast, where we support business education through the stories of great humans. Let's borrow their vision, their tools, and their tactics to lift your own purpose and find happiness within your organization, your teams, and your community. I am your purpose-driven host the real Tom Finn and, on the show, today have the master of burnout, who burnt himself out to help us all figure out well, how not to do this. His name is Jimmy Burroughes. Jimmy, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Tom. So great to be here. What a flattering introduction. I appreciate it.

Well, we're going to learn a lot more about burnout on the show than I think we all anticipate, but before we do that, let me just take a moment to introduce you to Jimmy. 

He's on a mission to change the way that teams are led, now he's got 20 years of experience and leadership roles, and a track record of success as a people leader in big, big organizations. And what he knows how to do well is to build a high-performance culture that delivers results.

So, you probably think, well, where did that come from? Well, he's an ex-army officer, a scuba diving instructor. He's been to 69 countries and lived in 12… Pretty amazing. He happens to run a successful high-performance culture consulting business. Brings a ton of different lenses and angles to really challenge the bottom line of the business performance. Incorporating elements of neuroscience, behavioral science energetics, and some of those commercial best practices for leaders. 

And as a really fun fact, if you weren't already intrigued, Jimmy went on a 2 Year Digital Nomad program living and working in Latin America while also growing his business. So many places we could go, my man. And thank you for joining us today. Let's go on this nomad adventure. So, you think three years off and you put the passport in the backpack and hit the road? What was that about?

You know, I think everybody should do a sabbatical or a time out. And I've actually made a habit for the last two decades of doing it once a decade. So, in 2007, when I left the military, I took a year off and travel with Southeast Asia and Indonesia, and then in 2017, I took two years off to travel Latin America and at the same time had a bit of a mission to achieve some things. 

So, if I kind of segue back six months before that started. I was working as a corporate GM in a relatively large organization running an 8-figure business with a very busy team that had been through an extremely challenging couple of years of legislative changes, the transformation happening in the organization, a significant transformation happening in the organization. Restructures budget challenges. The typical corporate GM lifestyle. 

At the same time, doing an MVA and trying to reach the age of 40, thinking how do I get that seat on the executive table? What do I need to do that's going to get me there? Because my mission in life was to be the CEO. That's what I wanted to do, and I wanted to be a CEO by 40. Unfortunately, I didn't quite balance life the way that I did. Now I know it is an essential part of success, and being a member of and being a leader in a high-performance culture, it's a lot about the balance. 

And so, unfortunately, in 2017, I burned myself out pretty spectacularly. There's the product of working from 7:00 in the morning till 2:00 in the morning, seven days a week, traveling 10 days out of 14, and changing cities every night to manage the meeting schedule, and it took its toll. 

And so, 2017 woke up one morning and just realized I could not keep going anymore. So... Went through a resignation process, sold everything I owned, and moved back in with Mom and Dad for a few weeks while I did a bit of a rethink and planned this trip to essentially create a life by design, and the initial intention with the life by design was not to work actually, was to enjoy life, almost like from one pendulum swing one side to the other. So, I've gone from this extremely busy life to creating a life of simplicity. And to a point I've achieved that, but also other things came along, and other opportunities and passions were reignited. 

But the two years in Latin America were essential, I want to create a life where I can work from anywhere. I can support amazing people doing incredible work in fantastic organizations, but I don't want to have to come and do it in a training room. I want to do it on a computer. And 2023 sounds pretty normal, right? We all had Zoom meetings and teams back in those days. And when we're talking 27. Team Skype existed, and Skype for business existed. I don't think we have WhatsApp calls back. Then I can't remember, but essentially no sort of proposal to a senior leadership team. OH I'm going to run your workshop for you, but I'm going to run it from Peru and they're like, well, no. Because can you just come to our offices in LA, or could you come to, you know, Auckland, New Zealand and deliver it well? No, because I'm moving to Chile next week, so I can't. So, we need to find a way of making it work. 

And so really, it was that discovery of flexible working before it became a thing and thankfully in many ways, you know obviously COVID has been a horrific experience for much of the world and countless pain and loss that people have gone through. But for me as a nomadic professional or a remote professional, it was the making of my organization and so this two-year immersion that I did was essentially learning how to run a consulting organization on the road-mobile, flexible, and developing a facilitation style. A workshop creation that essentially was what we call a 4D experience in a 2D world. 

So, we've got this screen in front of us where we're facilitating from and either you've got lots of people on their computers or what are sent to happen is you've got the board around the board table and I'm on the screen at the front of the room with a wide-angle camera. Creating a bit of depth and adding some emotion and feeling to that experience so they actually make progress. And so those two years were spent learning how to do that and then the subsequent years have been spent and I'm sure we'll go into this more but have been spent building the practice, which is the body of IP doing the doctorate, the professional doctorate. In the material that we now share.

Wow, that's a lot of thinking to go through to build that plan. And I love how you've designed your life the way that you want it. I think that you know, there's probably some cheers in the audience, right? If we're in a three-dimensional world, applauding you along your way to say I want to be like Jimmy when I grow up. I want to live where I want. I want to do the job. I want to do it, and I Want to Do it digitally. What were some of the steps that you first started to put into play to build this digital sort of lifestyle that you can live anywhere?

It's a really interesting question because. You know, and if I go back, like if I go back to sort of before your question started, I Had the luxury, after leaving New Zealand, and leaving my corporate GM role as a single person with no kids, so a lot of the things that I wanted to do were open to me if you are. If married with multiple children, probably doing a two-year jaunt on your own with the backpack is not an option. 

But I think if we go to the core values of what I was trying to achieve it was how to do it. I actually want to live life. You know, I've got 80-something years on this planet. Do I want to spend it in a beige cubicle, or do I have a bigger goal? And I'd always dreamed, and I still have this dream of being able to wake up in the morning, slide open my doors, and walk down onto the beach and into the water that was, it's one of the pieces of my life design that are incredibly important to me and so compromising on that was not something I was willing to let go. 

So, then the question you have to ask yourself Is, well, whatever my beach House vision is in my version of my design, my life by design. How do I make that work? NOT…Oh, it can't be done. 

So, it's finding a way and I guess you know what you mentioned, but briefly, at the start, I was an army officer. One of the things the military teaches you is to find a way like it's not an option to go. I'm sorry, I'm a bit scared or we can't. I can't go and attack that enemy position because of these reasons. Find a way. Make it happen. 

So, life, by design, was initially what am I non-negotiables? What are the things I'm not willing to compromise on, one of those was not willing to compromise on having to live somewhere, but it was choosing to live somewhere. 

The second factor was how I stayed afloat. So, what am I going to do for work? And initially, I had some savings, I earned great money while I was a GM, so I had some savings tucked away and I allocated an allowance for myself to basically be able to travel as long as that lasted. It lasted about a year and a half, but when that money ran out, my business had reached a point where it was paying me an income. So, I actually was able to keep going for another six months before I consciously decided to stop, because, after two years of traveling, I was ready to stop. 

So, how am I going to stay afloat? You know, you can't just randomly go off and create this hedonistic life if you have no income. Well, I couldn't. So that was the second choice. How do I stay afloat and discover what that was going to look like? 

And then the third choice was being very clear. To the point of literary writing it down, what does life by design look like for me? So, I had these non-negotiables, but I had a list of …it's fascinating actually... I had a list of 27 bullet points. Which was how? Where am I living and what am I? You know, what's my life like? Who is my partner and what are they like? What is the work I'm doing and what does that look like when I read through it with my partner last week, I wrote this in 2017, and 26 of them are ticked. 

So, it has been a process of building, but I don't know if you ever watched as a kid the old Batman series. Where they fire the grappling hook up the side of the building and pull themselves in. Well, you've got to know which skyscraper you're firing the grappling hook up, and you've got to pull on the rope to go where you want to go. If you haven't chosen a skyscraper, and if you haven't got a rope to pull on, you just go where the wind takes you, right? 

So, the three things were, yeah, what am I non-negotiables? What am I going to do for income? And what does the detail look like in life by design? Now go do it.

Yeah, I love the way you laid that out. So non-negotiables I think we could probably all figure out right The next part… Item 2 is the budget item and how long do I have to survive on the cash that I have, right? 

But the other part of that that I'm thinking through, as I'm listening to you is well, yeah, you had the cash, but you also started building a business. So, when the cash ran out, you didn't actually run out of Cash is that what you were thinking?

About it too, initially, it was just that I needed a break. 

So, in six months I'll be complete. In six months I went off and learned how to be a diving instructor because. And I wanted to be in the Caribbean and chill out and enjoy life, so I just took a complete break. The second six months were starting to meet nomads on the road, and this was, you know, pre-COVID. So, this is the dawn of What I would call proper remote work. Obviously, there's telecommuting in the US, but this was the dawn of remote working in earnest. 

And so, I was meeting a lot of people on the road who were managing organizations, managing businesses, leading teams and, you know, over a beer in a. Cafe or whatever we. Would be talking. And like, oh my God, you know, I just can't get my team to do this, or this is a real struggle. And I would just share some ideas. It's like, hey, what about this? Have you tried this? Have you thought of this? That evolved over a sort of six-month window into a few people asking me for one-on-one advisory support and mental support. I don't call myself a coach because I'm not a coach. I'm a hey, here are my thoughts, and try this. And here's a tool or a framework. It's advisory work.

So I started doing that and then gradually other organizations heard about the things that I was sharing and doing so either were then asked to I guess combine an MVA, former corporate GM, former Army officer, and now able to deliver remotely into some leadership programmer development for some pretty well-known large organization and that became a sustainable income, and I was like, oh, there's a business in this. Like, there's something in this I should turn into an organization and hence that's where JBL came from, and what eventually evolved into the ways of working program was literally a kind of organic growth based on reading the tea leaves of where the world was going. 

None of us could have predicted COVID, but my suspicion is that whether COVID comes along or not, there would have been a gradual adoption of remote and virtual, and hybrid work. All that COVID did was just accelerate that dramatically for us and I have benefited from that. I'm proud to say that I've benefited from the misfortune of the situation. I'm proud to say that we've managed to sort of capitalize and support organizations through that in a Service we haven't profited from, but we've definitely tried to serve wherever we can.

Yeah. And then the last part of this is filling out that list of items that you want to tick the box, as you said, the 27 items that you really wanted in your life. Can you share a couple of those things that were kind of ideas that you had that make your life what it is today?

Maybe I'll start with the work ones because they're the ones probably people want to know about or maybe they're not, I don't know, but the. Work ones in it. I wanted to work with large organizations that were experiencing a cultural disruption and the senior leaders in the organization were genuinely committed to making some sort of change in the way that the organization behaved and acted and treated its people and wanted to make a difference. This is generally for organizations who are facing some sort of industry disruption.

Whether it's disruption through technology, disruption through competitors, disruption through something else, or digitization. But they've gone. Holy crap. We need to do something different. Equally, they've gone. Holy crap. Our people keep leaving and burning out and melting. We need to support our leaders with some new skills and again, COVID has essentially revealed the gaps in the majority of leadership development programmers around the world that are available. So, I wanted to help organizations to make better leaders so they could have better conversations and make better teams. 

That was probably one of the top lists for me to be surrounded by incredible thought leaders as well. You know that whole old wives’ tale of you being the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I surrounded myself with the most amazing people I could find, so initially immersed in digital nomad culture, to learn how that worked discovered Chrome plugins for everything. You know, there's a Chrome plugin for literally anything you want to do, so discover that they've known about those things.

Learn how to be mobile, learn how to run a mobile business, learn how to do invoicing, and all those things. And then subsequently, as I've gone on the thought leadership journey and practice building journey have surrounded myself with incredible thought leaders. 

So initially I joined an organization in Australia called the Thought Leaders Business School which is fantastic. And then subsequently partnered up with a business coach who runs an online platform coaching programmer, his name's James Wedmore. He's incredible. And again, surround me with people who are on a mission to change the way their clients do what they do. so. That's where the 2nd… sort of more personal stuff.

And then at a relationship level, it was. I want to. I want to be able to go scuba diving relatively frequently. I want my partner to be a diver. I want my partner to be a foodie. I want my partner to be a bit quirky. And I'm extremely lucky that the partner I found is all of those things and so much more. And so, it was a case of, you know, what? If you're really clear about what you want you to see when it comes along? And then you know how to grab it.

Yeah, I think what's so beautiful about this story is that you took the time to plan everything out. Created your list. And then you have to go and execute. 

So, my friends out there that are thinking about this, you're thinking about leaving your job and your Corporate, you know, beige cubicle. And if you want to actually do it, it's OK you can. 

Jimmy is a great example. There are, and there are many others. I'm an example of doing it as well. And so, the key though is to figure out your timeline of cash, figure out something you really want to do, and start to build the business. Right away. Don't wait… unless you're completely and madly burnt out and you need six months off, which in that case, follows Jimmy's plan.

Now I would recommend people do your plan. It's much better.

You got to kind of jump into something and have a game plan of what you're going to do and then write all this stuff down. Because you can do it. You can make the leap from corporate burnt-out executive to happy scuba diver, you know running your own company. It's, you know, Jimmy. 'S an example. In fairness, there's a bunch of, you know, folks out there just like us that have done it, Jimmy, that have made that move. And I think it's, it's empowering to hear. To hear the story. As you lay.

It out, I think there's one thing probably to add to that, Tom, which does not make the mistake of thinking it's easy. There is the grass is always greener syndrome when you're an employee, oh if I could just go out on my own and do my own thing. You know, I wouldn't have to deal with all this politics and the meetings and all that stuff, depending on the type of business you create, obviously. 

But I would say in the last 5-6 years at times. Right now, I'm probably working harder than I've ever worked. From a combination of we're launching our podcast, as I mentioned, we're launching a book, but we're also doing a day job, which is supporting large demanding clients globally and working across multiple time zones. 

So, it is very hard work and you're almost having to navigate the complexities and politics of multiple organizations at the same time as an outsider. But it's the most fun I've ever had, and it's the most rewarding work I've ever done, and I'm doing it... I'm living a life, we call it on purpose. 

And I mean that in two ways. I mean very deliberately, but also with a strong guiding light that's helping to take me in the right direction. So, if you're that person that's thinking of quitting because you're miserable. Make sure you're quitting for the right reasons and that whatever you end up in isn't going to repeat the pattern of making you miserable. And what we often see with many people who do this is they just recreate the life they left because it's the pattern that they're stuck in without resolving the issues that led to them feeling miserable in the first place.

That is a pro tip I've ever heard one! Don't fall back into the same trap that you were in when you left the job, the situation that you hated. You've got to come up with what the new plan is going to look like, and it's got to be vastly different from the old plan. Otherwise, you're just going to fall back into bad habits, right?

And I think now I have conversations with my coach. And I realized a few months ago, I was like, well, do you know I'm creating the level of complexity in my business that I walked away from when I was walking away from being a GM? 

And so, it's like, how do I strip that right back again, how do I, how do I make? Business work for me does not continue working for my business and so simplifies as much as we can and reuses as much as we can versus making things complicated all the time.

So, most people know that I run a coaching platform called Legg UP, which is global in nature. An idea that I came up with when I was in my burnout phase in Corporate America. And I think what's really interesting is that you and I both have coaches that support us and so this is an interesting conversation. I've never really talked about this before, but to operate as an entrepreneur you absolutely need a strategic advisor. And whether you want to call that person a coach or a strategic advisor or a consultant really doesn't matter. What matters is somebody is giving you an alternative view to your own look of your business. How do you use this strategic alliance for good within your organization?

Well, do you know I'm going to challenge your statement a little bit to work as a successful entrepreneur, I would argue to work as anybody at the most effective level that you can be?

100%.

You know, I think in the corporate world, there is occasionally a stigma, of if I get a coach, it's because I've got a problem, right? Or because I need remedial support or I'm not good enough. And I always say, well, you know, Hussein Bolt fastest man on the planet or former fastest man on the planet. He is a coach of Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift or, you know... Any number of pop stars have vocal coaches. Football teams that win the Premiership have coaches for everything, so coaches are not about remedial action. Coaches are about helping you to uncover the magic that is stored within you that you might not be able to access on your own. 

And so, I was having a great conversation last night with a CFO of a pretty large organization and she was really wrangling with the idea of coaching and also taking a coaching approach with her team. And we talked about this at length and the thing was essentially it was the fear of having a mirror held up to the things that she couldn't see about herself and the fear of the conflict that might come up if she held a mirror up to her team. 

And it is literally like standing in a mirror and looking... See yourself. What do you see? And can you see this? Can you see this thing I'm pointing to? Because that's something that's. Holding you back that you might not be aware of or it might be too uncomfortable for you to deal with. That's where a coach is going to, you know, give their magic and unleash your magic. 

And you mentioned in the introduction I talk about energetics. Energetics is. Just is based on Newtonian science. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Can only be formed. Change from one form to another. Every transaction or interaction that we do with anybody, or anything is a transfer of energy. But when you have a coach standing next to you, they might go. Let's just take that little piece of armor off that you've been using to protect you, to let that energy flow more freely with that person that relationship go more easily, let you feel more comfortable because you can actually let that negative energy out, and whatever it might be that coaches. You have to have that. 

And again, I'll go back to the previous statement I made... you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you're spending your time with somebody who's shining a light on your magic. And it is unleashing your magic and is taking and showing you the things that you're doing that are holding you back.

Why would you not want that person as a strategic partner as a leader, as an entrepreneur, or just as a mum at home or whatever? Whatever it is you want to do with your life, get a coach. It says there are different coaches for different people, right? You run a coaching platform. I'm a leadership advisor and there are people who are behavioral science coaches. There’s a coach for everything and they are there to help.

Yeah, well, well said. So, I want to take a little bit of a left-hand turn and go Back in time. So, one of the things that we open with is that. You have faced, experienced, and overcome burnout along your own personal journey, which has led you to study this idea and really become. Someone who understands the variables that are contained in burnout, so can you help us understand your burnout story?

Sure. So, I obviously started the story of getting to 2017 and waking up one morning and realizing I just couldn't go on. And this was something that had been brewing for a while. But if I describe to you some of the things I was feeling. What's the point of all of this? Like, why, why am I going to work every day and work 16,17,18, sometimes 20 hours a day? What difference am I making? 

Encountering feelings of everything's a fight like I'm always struggling for something and there's no budget where somebody's going to get fired. We have to restructure some costs of the business, and this is miserable. The people that I really enjoy hanging around within the business, we're all struggling, we're all stressed, and we don't have time to network and talk because we're just in meetings all the time. I'm not really even sure what the executives are trying to achieve here because it keeps changing every 5 minutes.

Yeah, yeah.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel. I'm so constrained. I'm so frustrated and I'm trying all these new things, but I just keep getting knocked back because we're too conservative. And Oh my God, I'm just tired. Like I haven't had any … I literally did not take a day off in 2 1/2 years even back in the UK seeing Mum and Dad, I'd be working at night to answer the board paper Questions through the night and then getting up in the day and having a day with family. I just haven't had a day off in forever. I can't remember the last time. I just relaxed. I miss seeing my friends. I haven't had time for hobbies. I put on 25 kilos because I was just living on Coke 0, sausage rolls, and junk food as I moved between meetings I was eating on the fly. I'm exhausted. 

If that gives a flavor of the things that I was feeling and going through. It's so interesting that when we wrote the book and we did all the research that led to creating the book, those were the things that kept on coming up again and again and again. So, all we did was systematize those and turn them into the variables that are included in our practice in our program, and in the book.

So, you talked about some of the challenges that... You know… I'm listening to your story. I've been there, I think I've lived. Yeah, hopefully, something like that.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Check, check, check, check.

I think I've Lived all of those components as so many of us have. When we work in corporate roles in. A high level.

So how do you fix it?  Look, your path is not for everybody. Everybody can't just say you know what? I'm done here. Walk away, resign. Have a year and a half worth of savings and go. You know, travel all over Latin America. Love the story. It's a beautiful story. Personally, I'd love to do it myself. Not everybody has those capabilities. So how do you actually fix the burnout with perhaps I don't know, staying where you're at in terms of job function?

And I'm glad you said that because I did that so other people don't have to. And what we've created is the mechanism. So, you don't have to burn out and you don't have to leave your business, but actually, we can help build a culture in your organization that stops that feeling like the pain that I just described I went through. And if I can put a picture in your mind. Do you remember the old-school ghetto blasters that used to exist with the little graphic equalizers on the front? And you would like to dial up the bass or dial up the treble and there's like 5 or 6 little plus minus things that you can do. 

So, we look at how you do this in an organization as essentially these five variables. And what we want to do is get all five of those in the positive zone and take them out of the negative zone. So, at the very least, we want to get them to 0, ideally into the positive if they're in the negative and there are more than two presents in any organization, we see a significant correlation with an increase in burnout. 

So, I can walk you through them and they'll become more apparent based on the story I told if that. If that makes sense. 

So the first variable is the purpose and we start with purpose because and you know Simon X starts with Y, Jimmy starts with purpose. The “why” … Why are we doing this? What's my why? And we actually created a framework called the purpose pyramid, which essentially is drawing a line or a relational line between what's my personal purpose. Why was I put on this planet? What's my role purpose? What do I do in this team? What's our team’s purpose? What do we do? And does my whole purpose line up with that? And what's our organizational purpose? What difference are we trying to make on the planet? 

And what we see is if there is a disconnect at any of those 4 levels, we get what's called cognitive dissonance. It's like your brain is in friction with itself and so what we try to do with the organizations we do is get very, very, very clear on why did you choose this career? What's your background? Are you really, really clear on the roles, responsibilities, expectations, goals, the objectives of your role? Do you know what this team is actually for? Have we got priorities? Are we all aligned and focused on the things that we should be doing and how each of us contributes to that? And is our team supporting the business priorities and business strategy or are we kind of a silo going off and doing our own thing? And is our organization actually making a difference to the planet in a positive way that I can ethically buy into, with my own personal value? 

And so, we start with that. And so, the first piece of research was if we say no to those questions, we lose a little bit of a score and everyone we say no to, we're further into the negative, and the more negative we are, the higher the dissonance, the higher the incidence of burnout. That makes sense.

Yep, good item 1.

The second variable is abundance. An abundance can be... You can rename that growth mindset, learning mindset, and learning culture, optimism, happiness, engagement; but often it's easier to describe the opposite of that because it's more familiar to a lot of people, which is the feeling of being scared or in a threat-like state. 

So, people who are in what we call the scarcity mindset believe there's not enough to go around, there's not enough money to go around. We can't pay everybody enough. We have to restructure. Budgets are tight. We have to hit our KPIs because if we don't, we'll be fired. There are so many meetings I have no time for myself. These are the scarcity things that tend to happen and what we see over a period of time is that scarcity response triggers a neurochemical reaction and a physiological reaction which has unhealthy side effects, can lead to strokes, can lead to heart attacks, can lead to diabetes, can lead to obesity. But also starts to change the regular, the happiness regulators, the emotional regulators of your brain. So actually, can start to trigger anxiety and depression if you live in a scarce mindset for a prolonged period of time. 

So instead, we want to move you to an abundant mindset which is truly believing that there are enough clients to go around. There is enough time to do this. We certainly can do this. You have confidence in your team. So we go through a series of exercises that help teams to reach an abundant state where they can also work together because they're clear on what they may be doing because they're on purpose. They can certainly say, well, let's have a better conversation about what isn't a conflict. It's about how we help each other in conversation. Much more abundant so that's the second one.

OK, got it. Item 3.

#3 on the list is connection. Inherently we are all tribal animals, right?  And there's safety in numbers. You know, if you think about it right back through prehistoric and historic times, it was much safer to be in a group than it was to be a loner. And so, we've been hardwired to want to be in a group. So, what we talk about in the connection. The piece of the research is #1. How do you bring new people? Into the tribe. Some people call them employees. But it's how you welcome and integrate people into your tribe, whether that's a team...

Most companies are terrible at this. By the way,

Yeah, the research is scary. Actually, the one that really scares me is that in 25% of companies, 60% of people leave within 90 days. Just terrifying. So, people are like I'm. I'm gone. I'm gone within three months in 1/4 of my businesses.

You're not so funny about this though. Jimmy, like you know what's so funny. Who takes accountability?

That nobody that's part of the issue.

No one takes accountability for it. Look, I know that if there's a problem with the finances, we know whose head's going to Roll, they're called CFO. But when there's a problem with onboarding and cultural onboarding within the entire organization, everybody points fingers in the other direction. They do not point their thumb.

Or is it a recruitment problem or it's or it's a workload problem or it's a priority problem? It's never, never pinned down to. Actually, the way we are on-board people here sucks. So, we've had the luxury of doing two large projects with significant organizations in two different industries and the challenges were the same. But essentially if I do a crappy job of making an offer by the end of year one then chances are that my team is not going to be a high-performing culture. Because that purpose is not clear on purpose. Because that person is scared and on edge all the time. Because they don't know things around here. So, the first piece of connection is connecting people to the business. 

The second piece is connecting people to the plan. So, do people understand what we're actually trying to do here? Have we found our skyscraper and thrown our grappling hook up? And are we pulling ourselves in or are we drifting on the open water wherever the wind and tides may take us? And too many teams are not connected to the plan. They're not clear. 

The third piece of connection is connecting people to growth and development, so never in modern history have humans had to adapt so fast to anything than they have in the last five years and that pace is probably going to continue to increase. And yet we still rely on archaic learning and development models. Leadership training that's fit for the 1990s in people who haven't had a one-on-one conversation with their leader about what their growth aspirations are and where they want to go. 

So, we wonder why we're struggling. So, the research talks about how you connect people with the business with the plan and with development and how we take that to the next level. So, we put everything back in the positive zone. So, that is number #3

And #4 is the concept of exploration. And you know, it's fascinating that there's a couple of stories we tell here, but the first one is surprising. The number of burnouts is over the age of 37, so between the 30. 7 to 50 range. Who has done very well in their career? And have kind of plateaued for whatever reason, their leadership skills were not developed well enough. They don't have leadership potential. They've stopped learning, you know, the majority of people, they learn a lot in their early career and then they just rely on those skills for the rest of their career. 

And so, when we see that plateau of the learning curve, combined with an inability to explore high-risk aversion in the culture, high compliance culture, lack of curiosity in an organization, and lack of innovation strategy, people feel like the hamster on the wheel. Same problems, and the same tools every day. It's the. It's the churn-and-burn mentality, churn and burn. We end up with burnout. 

So, what we discovered was that organizations are the opposite, the organizations that encourage curiosity, that ask questions like how we might have leaders who accept mistakes as learning experiences and build those into improving practice. They're the ones that become high-performance cultures. The ones that stifle and control and are dictatorial and autocratic and risk-averse tend to have a significantly higher burnout and this all sounds really common sense, right? 

So, it's like a war. So, what do you do about it? Well, that's what the book is all about, is, what do you do about it? But it's amazing when we talk. About these things, people just kind of nod and go. Yeah, that makes sense. So, number four is explored versus essentially being really conservative. 

The last chapter of the book and the last piece of the research is downtime, and we deliberately leave downtime till the end because you can't fix burnout by taking a vacation. You can't fix burnout by taking a weekend off. You know it can help alleviate some of the symptoms, but if you leave a storm and you go inside and dry off and then come back outside into a storm, you're still going to get wet. 

So, the challenge in many organizations is they think, oh, we'll just sign somebody off for three or four months, they can go on sick leave or stress leave, and then they can come back, and they'll be fine and they come straight back into the lack of purpose, lack of abundance, lack of connection, lack of exploration that they that burn them out in the first place. And the situation generally within three to six months, they're leaving the business again. So, the downtime we found was a really interesting one. It has to be… Yes, concurrent with improving the other, but it also has some parameters which people often overlook. 

So, one of the things that we saw was many leaders don't spot burnout symptoms in their teams. So, we talk in our downtime. Research about what burner actually looks like, and we have a case study of a career in an organization. We worked with one particular staff member who went through that from end to end. We also talk about the types of downtime that are productive. 

So let me give you a very simple example. Have you ever had an amazing idea or solved a really challenging problem when you were standing in the shower or doing the dishes or out for a walk with the dog or one of those things? Well, in your brain, there are two neural networks that operate, and they're kind of like 2 TV channels. You can't watch both at the same time. You're either on one channel or you're on the other. And when we're busy solving problems, having lots of meetings, and having an intense cognitive load channel, which is called our task processing network, we cannot be on the other channel, which is the reflection daydreaming and subconscious channel, which is called our default mode network. And it's only when we stop doing those things and we start consciously looking out the window and daydreaming or having a shower or going to learn that that part of your brain is able to do the things that it does.

And so, we talk a lot about what are the hobbies or activities that can enable you to access the default mode network, the relaxation channel. But equally, consciously building that into your practice as a leader and with your team, so things like mindfulness moments, things like short breaks between meetings, things like. Lots of other examples that we share. So, the acronym for the five variables of burnout is paste PACED purpose, abundance, connection, exploration, and downtime.

Yeah, that is super helpful because organizations are struggling with how to reframe themselves in a modern world. And that means that they're putting a lot of pressure on their employees. If they haven't figured it out yet. 

So, to be able to identify purpose, abundance, connection, exploration, and downtime. The way that you said it, I think is a really nice framework to be able to create change within an organization. Can't wait for the book to come out. When do we think it's hitting the shelves?

The official launch date is the 25th of May and it'll be on all major platforms. We're initially going eBook, then audiobook, then print book, although I am having some printed for some special clients, and we're actually if anybody is interested in grabbing the first chapter, we have a link where you can actually get the first chapter for free and then get notified when the book is released. So, if you're comfortable, we can share that in the show notes and people can grab that for themselves.

No, that's great, Jimmy, I will put that in the show notes so everybody can take a look. And if somebody wanted to get more information directly from you and dig in a little bit and get to know you a little bit better, where would they find you?

Probably 3 places where we're most active. Number one will be my website jimmyburroughes.com. That's got links to pretty much everything. I'm very active on LinkedIn, so if people want to connect and have a sort of more immediate conversation, LinkedIn is a good place to get me. Or you can find me on Instagram, @JimmyBLeadership.

Awesome, man. Well, thank you for sharing not only your personal story, but all of these tips and tricks and really understanding what others are going through to then build a model that we can all replicate within our own systems, our own cultures within organizations, and within our families and our family structure. I mean, there are a lot of things that we can take away. That is not business-related here but just set us up to live as you said, a life by design.

Well, thank you so much for the opportunity to share. And yeah, I'm very happy to have a conversation with anybody who feels like they might be struggling and just looking for a way through this. Believe me, I think, well, you and I, Tom, we've both been there and we both know that's not a particularly fun place to be, and there is lots of help in the world to support you when you might not be able to see it for yourself right now.

That's right. You just gotta take that leap of faith and ask for help to get on the new path that will bring you joy and happiness. Jimmy can't thank you enough for joining the show today. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

And thank you for joining the Talent Empowerment Podcast. I hope you transform your business and your personal life by placing relationships and humans at the center. Go ahead and make sure that you're not suffering from burnout and enable innovation at scale within your company. My friends, let's get back to people and culture together. We'll see you. In the next episode.

Tom Finn
Podcaster & Co-Founder

Tom Finn (he/him) is an InsurTech strategist, host of the Talent Empowerment podcast, and co-founder and CEO of an inclusive people development platform.

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