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How I Nearly Burned Out as a Leader (and Why I’m Not Alone)

Written by: Suzan Bond

I sat in bed rubbing my eyes, trying to wake up. The clock read 6:29 am. Europe was well into their day. After navigating a tricky conflict the day before, my energy tank was dangerously low. I longed to stay in bed but five urgent issues loomed in Slack. I lumbered out of bed, slipped into a pair of pants and a nice sweater, forcing mental exhaustion to the back of my mind. Pushing back my own concerns was just part of leadership. This was one morning but it could have been any number of them as a leader.

Emotional fatigue was a daily occurrence so I thought nothing of it at the time. When I left the company, I was closer to the edge of burnout than I’d ever been. The impact was total: my physical, mental and emotional health were all compromised. I couldn’t work full time for several months. I even contemplated leaving the industry all together. Eventually I found my way back to full health and excitement for my work. Still, I wondered how I’d gotten so close to the burnout edge.

I knew leadership would be hard — but not in the way it happened. The long hours were hard, managing my emotions far harder. I didn’t anticipate how often I’d have to manage my feelings, how many times I’d have internal conflict or how much power dynamics would play into my work.

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