Are you burned out?
When the to-do list is filled with urgent items that are underlined and have stars and exclamation points next to them, it’s tempting to throw up our hands and curl into a ball. The to-do list is an inescapable part of modern life. Sometimes we make lists of our lists just to keep them straight.
And these lists are usually filled with things that we do to avoid criticism, that we have to do to avoid some negative consequence, but that will have to be accomplished again in just a couple weeks or months. When every day is filled with such soul-crushing tedium, burn-out isn’t far away. The Japanese even have a word for death from overwork: karoshi.
A company filled with management reports and meetings that document failures and undone items has an unhealthy culture. That business isn’t moving forward, it’s just trying to keep from falling back. But this kind of monotony won’t attract and encourage talented staff to break out and create the next iPhone. At best it will be filled with folks who can tolerate the day-to-day drudgery of list-checking.
Shakespeare’s King Henry V understands this when he makes his St. Crispin’s Day speech in Act IV of the play. Outnumbered five-to-one, the king had spent the night before the battle among his troops, anonymously, gauging their morale. He knows he needs to stir their hearts. And that’s what he does. He promises his soldiers honor, remembrance, and even brotherhood. He concludes that “all things are ready if our minds be so.”
Some things on your daily list need to inspire you—not just keep you out of trouble. Don’t succumb to the “tyranny of the urgent.” Sometimes the most important task is the one that’s the least pressing.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all!