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The Puzzle is a solution to live well, when dealing with high stress and uncertainty.
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Avoiding burnout - People's stories

#2. Being scared what happens if I work less

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1st Step

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Intro

Deep dive

FAQ

2nd Step

Choose

Witness how others have used the Puzzle and inspire yourself

People's story

Thoughts

3rd Step

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1. Pick one Puzzle piece
2. Apply the tip(s)
3. Follow up on results
4. Acknowledge positive impact
5. Repeat

Deep dive

FAQ

Introduction - People's stories

All People's stories are written in the 1st person to reinforce their impact.

While anonymity is preserved, all stories are inspired by real facts.

People's stories are examples, to feed you with concrete cases of how the Puzzle has been used. They are not to tell you what to think, or absolute truth: they were created with the intent to illustrate how you can transform your life with the Puzzle.

Each People’s story is presented in the following way:
Part 1. The authentic life experience
Part 2. What that same moment could have been, leveraging the Puzzle
Part 3. Decoding the story through the lens of the Puzzle framework

Part 1 - I am so scared of what could happen if I work less!

I am working really hard. There is no other possible way: I need the discipline and will. I also need to keep working no matter what! Hard working people are the ones that make a career.

Have you ever heard of a CEO that would not work long hours?! Of course not! I have to earn my way up, know what I am talking about, review what my teams are providing, etc. This is not easy, but that is the way it is!

I am convinced that if I work less and delegate more, then I will become lazy and start making mistakes! I have a colleague who chats with everyone, takes coffees, and builds his network. I really don’t know when he actually works!! I must say I find him quite incompetent. He always relies on his team. He pretends it is to value them, but I do know it is because he is incompetent! He just hides it well! I do find it funny though that it is working: people value him! Everyone likes him, and me less so! While, when you look, I am the one working my ass off and helping the company! All he does is chit chat! What value add is that?! I have no respect for him! I can understand that he is likable as a friend, but as a colleague he is not worth a penny! I heard in the open space that he is considered for a promotion, but that cannot be true! He is not working hard enough: he does not deserve to have more!

I, on the other hand, review everything my team does. And good that I do: I know what they are working on as well as they do, and I do find mistakes in their job. What if someone else would catch these errors, instead of me?! What a shame it would be!! Plus it would definitely backfire! They would blame me. Definitely, I would be seen as an incompetent manager! And I would not forgive myself either! That is my worst nightmare. I know it does add work to review everything, but it is part of the job of being a manager. I also know I am very demanding with the team, but without my feedback how can they learn and grow?
I also know I cannot sustain this heavy workload for much longer - but I trust that, as I get promoted thanks to my good work, then things will get easier. I will have bigger teams, more people helping me. Well I hope! That is the plan!

Still, I am not there yet. These days, I have so many things to keep in mind. So many things that could go wrong…. This keeps me up at night. And when I sleep, I have nightmares that I forgot something! I even have a booklet next to my bed, so I can write down ideas I have during the night, and not forget the next day!

I am and I look tired, but I must keep up.
I cannot afford to mess up with my career!

CONGRATULATIONS

MYSELF

EGO

PRESENT

CONNECT

FILTER

COMPASS

PROTECTION

POLLUTION

RULES

MASTER

You have gained perspective how others have overcome their challenge leveraging the Puzzle!
May it inspire you.

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CHOOSE !

Part 2 - I will find the courage to face my fears and work less: it is either this, or I will burnout!

I am working really hard. There is no other possible way… or at least this is what I strongly believed until recently!! I am starting to see some articles on LinkedIn, with younger generations sharing that they want work-life balance! I still think this is a dream…. but a nice dream though!
I would love to believe in such a life, unfortunately reality is different! I am not convinced that the people who advertise work less, do earn a good living! Still, some advertise otherwise…
I wonder whether this is true? I would love to trust there is an alternative model to working hard!

Also, if I work less, then I will become lazy and start making mistakes! I have a colleague who chats with everyone, takes coffees, and builds his network. I really don’t know when he actually works!! But I envy him! I am so busy I have no social interaction: this is just work-work-work, running from one meeting to the next. While I see him laughing with people.
And everyone likes him.
It is fascinating to witness that his behavior matters more than his competences! I have decided to observe him more closely, because it cannot be that he does not work at all: he must have another working style. Maybe there is something I can learn from him?

He always relies on his team. He pretends it is to value them, but I do know it is because he is incompetent! He just hides it well! But is this true? Is this really true?! Or could it be that he has a different management approach than I do?

I was in a meeting with him, and our boss caught a mistake in a presentation he was making. I observed closely: he just took notes and said he would correct them. Everyone moved on! Nothing terrible happened!! I would have been mortified!!
I spend all this time putting pressure on myself and my team so everything is perfect - but is it really worth it?!
Why am I working so hard if this is all that happens when you make a mistake? Because I am afraid everyone thinks I am a failure if I don’t.
Is this true they would think that? Why would they think I am a failure if I make a mistake? Because then I would no longer be good enough.
And what does that mean not to be good enough? People will avoid me. I am no longer likable.
And what happens when people avoid me? I get fired, and I become transparent.
And what happens then? Everyone forgets I exist. I will end up all alone, and without an income.
OK, let’s take a step back: is this really what work does? Are they going to fire me for making a few mistakes? Probably not…
And if they do, is this true that this is the only job on earth I could have? No… but I don’t think I have the energy to integrate a new company. But, theoretically, would I be able to regain more energy if I was out of a job, as I would then have more time for myself? So I would be ready to join another company? Sure could!
So I do have options right? Yes.
Also, think of 3 people that are or were out of jobs, and they still matter: Bill Gates when he left Microsoft, Presidents when their term ends, and a friend!
Do people still remember they exist? Yes. So could it be that there is a life after work? That I can reinvent myself? Yes!

I am so used to working all the time… and simultaneously I am so tired I don’t know how much longer I can do it!
Now, who is asking me to work this much? No one.
Then could I try little by little to work less, and see what happens? I can’t work less, they will fire me for sure! Fair, this is an option.
Yet, if I continue this way, I will end up burning out - so I might take the risk of being fired instead, no?!
I could start small, and commit to something I can manage to begin with. For instance leave 15mn earlier each day, or leave the office with the last person going in the evening.
My Ego is panicking because it sees I am not taking good care of myself, and it does not know how to course correct.
Well, the only way is to listen to myself more! Ask my Ego to help me put myself before my work. Ask it to give me the courage to believe that I matter more than my job. Ask it to give me the energy I need to change my life.

I usually review everything my team does.
To be aware of what they are working on, and to check their work. But I don’t have the energy any more to do it. So I have decided to meet with my team, and talk to them. I am too tired, I need them to help me. It is a big step: I have decided to share with them my fear of not doing everything right, and that I was trying to protect us all with my high expectations.
They were incredibly nice to me. They said they noticed I was more and more stressed, and they did not know how to talk to me. It felt really good to understand one another. I assumed - wrongly - that they did not care about me, as I was a very demanding manager. They told me they knew I did not mean bad.

I know it will take me time to transform my work habits, but it is worth it.
I now see that everyone makes mistakes, and that this is not the end of the world! I will continue to do my best, and I will trust my team more. I have faith in myself: I have proven I am strong working this hard.
And I will from now on also take good care of myself. I guess being really tired has a good part: if it had not happened to me, I would have continued working like crazy.

This led me to realize that I can live a different life - a life that suits me better.
A work-life balance!

Part 3 - The Puzzle decoder

Let's decode this People's story with the lens of the Puzzle pieces.

MYSELF

EGO

PRESENT

When I pretend I am another person, I can hurt myself. For instance, when I keep up with a high workload at work and pretend everything is fine - while in reality I am exhausted and stressed; then I forget to take good care of myself.
And that leads to letting my Ego lead my life, because I won’t have the energy to fight it. I let my Ego feed myself with fears - fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of being fired… All this is happening in my head, and none of what keeps me running at high speed is real. I am doing this to myself. I can stop behaving this way little by little, as the fear that got me there is too big to be ignored! Baby steps, and day by day - I shall dare listen to myself.

Acknowledging that this fear and my Ego are in control, is an essential first step. Mitigate this phenomenon by being present each time I can.
As I am present, I can witness that nothing terrible happens around me. As possible, I could also take mini breaks during the day. It doesn’t have to be long to start with. It can be taking 10 seconds before joining the next meeting, and taking these 10 seconds to breathe and relax.

What matters is to be able to pause the madness of my days, and enjoy a little quiet time. And when this habit is in place, then I can extend the duration of these pauses. And be more and more present during my days - until my Ego stops panicking, and is able to partner with me to change my relationship to work.

CONNECT

FILTER

When I am heading to burn out, I deny my emotions and my body. All I am is a strong mind, and that can take it! I want to keep going, regardless of the fact that my engine is running out of fuel! Reconnecting with myself is therefore essential.
And also to stop solely being in my brain. Doing a bit of physical exercise without being online - for instance picking up lunch without being on the phone. Consciously breathing in and out some air. Fully enjoying a moment. Looking at the blue sky. Acknowledging if I am feeling well, or not - and what emotion it is. All these are small things that do help a lot, as they break the habit of me being a brain - and a brain only.

Until I do so, my filter will be dysfunctional, as it will only be fed by one pessimistic source of information: my Ego.

And when I am ready and rested enough, I should come back to what brought me there. Behind burn out symptoms is usually a Cold Case. I believe in something that is not right, and in particular not right for me. As I dig and course correct, I will be able to relate to work differently.

COMPASS

PROTECTION

POLLUTION

When I head to burn out, my Compass is set of fear, and I deeply pollute myself with what will go wrong if I do not continue working hard and long hours. It feels like there is no alternative - and indeed there is none from the perspective of my Ego.
And this is when I need to step up for myself: there are alternatives in real life. There are people that survived this and reinvented themselves. There are successful careers without sacrificing everything to work. If some people have done it, then I can too! Imagine putting all the will that brought me here, at the service of protecting myself? How strong would I be then?!

I need to be kind and patient to myself: I am now conscious of what is going on, and I have decided to fix it. It will take time, yet I am directionally correct - and this is all what matters.

RULES

MASTER

I only see what I deeply believe in. So I probably see hard workers around me, hear stories about lazy people being caught, etc. Yet there are also people - most people - that do manage having a job and taking care of a family at the same time. Opening my eyes to how other people are managing their job helps: it shows that there are plenty of options. I will too find the one that suits me!

Mastering my life consists in realizing that I am the one putting all this pressure on myself. No one else is - at least not to the extent I do! And if I put myself there, I also have the capability to extract myself from it! I may feel very tired, but the energy will come back step by step.
And then, I will be able to partner with my Ego, and apply the tricks that will transform my life and allow me to be well. I have the determination for it: it all starts with me deciding what I want.

And that I deserve a better life!

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