Wednesday Feature: CEO Burnout is Real

Happy Hump Day! As readers would expect, I spend a ton (ok, maybe not a ton but a lot) of time reading and researching for client purposes and for this site. Over the years, I have found developing subject level knowledge has kept me sane and given me a deep perspective on health care and health policy. Being ahead simply helps reduce the feeling of “getting overloaded”.

I’ve been a CEO, in health care/post-acute care, and I know the level of time and commitment it takes to be a leader in a 24/7 business. I know the second guessing of decisions, the insanity of governmental overreach, being subjected to things like COVID, and having your family feel as if a part of them is “not present”. I know the workload and I know the days and sometimes, nights missed from home. I know what it is like to work through a holiday season to close a bond deal or to have pipes burst in buildings on a super cold Christmas, going in to support the staff working on clean-up and getting heat back into buildings where patients reside.

I also know the rewards. I know the joy of celebrating decades of work anniversaries with staff. I know the joy of patients going home, especially those who maybe, shouldn’t have gone home but did. I know the satisfaction of providing extremely good, loving care to families and friends. I know the small chats with families of patients that were meaningful and the times we sat together in prayer.

Today I know that many CEOs are burning out. They are lonely and questioning the value of what they do. They maybe are on the cusp of a divorce or one drink too many. Their anger is high as they are tired of fighting small dollar wars that the economy and reimbursement has foisted upon them. They want to spend more time on care but can’t as everything today seems to be about money. Maybe they read this blog and think, oh boy, more foolish regulation (staffing mandates, disaster plans, Medicare audits). Some days, it seems like down is the only direction health care is going.

A good article that I recently found on CEO/Executive work stress is here:

So, on this Hump Day, I’m offering a bit of well learned advice.  Like I said, I’ve been a CEO before, actually, for most of my career.  My advice comes from doing many things wrong, failing in some regards with family (one divorce), working too much, being too business focused when I should have been more family focused, etc.  Thankfully, I survived.  Here, below, is my advice.

  • Have a mentor that is not a peer.  Have someone you can talk with, share frustration, get counsel from, and when necessary, a kick in the pants.  Mentors or coaches can do this and do it without judgment.
  • Take breaks during the day.  There is no reward for a full calendar, each day, every day when you can’t spend time to think.
  • Exercise – daily.  A walk is great, outside.  Sweat = accomplishment.
  • Write, a journal, a diary, a blog (if you are crazy like me).  Put thoughts on paper.
  • Read – not work stuff but things that are enjoyable.
  • Take up a hobby that has a beginning and a defined end.  I like cooking and home remodeling projects. I use other parts of my brain and my hands, building things.  I get to share the end result with others.
  • Most CEOs make decent $$$ – consciously share some with charity.  Your work pays so pay it back.
  • If you are married, date your spouse.  Don’t lose this most important person in your life because you can’t separate work from home.  You will never have a job “forever” but you should have a spouse, forever.
  • Set time aside for family dinner – every night if possible.  Put the pager and cell somewhere that can’t be readily accessed during this time.
  • If you are spiritual like I am, pray and meditate daily.  Let a higher power into your life such that when things are absolutely terrible at work, you can know that the reason you do the work that you do is because you have been called to be a servant, a servant leader. 

Hope this post make sense for readers today.  Feel free as always, to share. HAPPY HUMP DAY!

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