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Discussions on Burn Out

~ with Irmi L


We spoke to Irmi L on the topic of Burn out. Her mantra is that staying healthy is actually simple. Somewhere along the way we lose the knowledge. We focus so much on heading in a planned and almost certain direction that we have dictated to ourselves: building a life, a career, ‘making something of ourselves’, whilst neglecting something that is so much deeper than this ideal. Being true to ourselves, our purpose, our reason for being, such a simple (yet profound) calling we often miss: being uniquely YOU. We lose the energy, the push, the passion of why we do what we do, we break ourselves and can no longer be of value to the people around us.


Irmi L explains that burn out is difficult to define, and unique to each individual. Its sentiment can be understood as something like living beyond your means, or consistently spending more than you have, physically and emotionally. Doing this continually, we reach a state of ‘burn out’. Why? Because we are built to physically (and emotionally) exert ourselves, then rest, and recover. When you are giving in a way that is above and beyond what you are able to on a daily basis, you burn out. The signs may not be as dire as you think. In fact, it may just have become your new normal: fighting everyone around you, exploding and losing your cool frequently, loving what you do yet finding so much aggravation in it, and a whole host of other symptoms from too much or little sleep, withdrawing from anyone and anything outside of your mission, the list goes on.


She points out that oddly, burn out in entrepreneurial circles have become some sort of badge of honour, some sort of claim to fame. The respect gained from working so hard, taking yourself to the absolute limits in terms of work stamina, is something we often take pride in and hence dont address. We put so much emphasis on your passion, whilst failing to understand that once we lose our energy, we cannot build on that passion and give the value of that to those around us. When we’re at zero, we cannot deliver much to anyone. What a great loss to those that need us, both personally and professionally, and most importantly ourselves. Entrepreneurs are born to bring even more value to the world than those on a normal mission. Our circle is wider as we build businesses designed to create impact, to change the world and have a positive effect on all those who interact with it in any capacity.


Irmi L advises us that giving ourselves the gift of reflection is crucial. The realisation that ‘this is not me’, to stand back and assess who we are and what we have become. This then becomes your opportunity to pivot towards emotional growth which will only serve you well as a creative entrepreneur (and as a human being). Ask yourself if you are acting within YOUR authentic values, not what the world has taught you to be true. One of the biggest challenges we face is societal expectations, the expectations others put on us. It is however our choice to accept and adopt these beliefs. We are in control.


Don't let fear drive an unhealthy approach to entrepreneurship, one of hyper growth, hyper professional focus, 24/7 business at all costs. Almost a mandate that if you're not suffering enough you can’t achieve as much. This one size fits all, homogenous version of how entrepreneurs ‘succeed’ is dead. Develop your own version. There IS a way to do this in a healthy, sustainable way. Businesses die every day, getting good rest, focusing on you and your family does not determine failure. The inverse is true: finding your balance between business, your family, and your own rest will see you find success you thought were impossible. Creative entrepreneurship is about finding YOUR way to reach YOUR version of success in YOUR own authentic way.


Irmi L points out (rightly so), that there are plenty of entrepreneurs who achieve healthy success, without self-neglect. When you understand what your energy bank account balance is each day, and you make sure to keep your expenditure within your daily limit, you will never fail. Your clients will always know they can depend on you. There is no ‘burn out’. You will have effectively removed fear and unpredictability from your business relationships. No one wants to be on the road with an unpredictable and inconsistent driver, always in fear, not knowing what to expect. When we behave in a more predictable manner in business especially, it removes the uncertainty, insecurity, and mistrust from the equation. There is enough uncertainty in life already. People will continue to work with you if you offer trust and security.


She encourages us to dig deep and address burnout symptoms head on, investigate the imbalance and go further to uncover the root cause: are you addressing issues around delegation, perfectionism, do you need to pivot in terms of your vision, is what you’re doing aligned morally with what you want to bring to the world, do you suffer from people pleasing, to name a few. Stand back and reassess what it is that you need to bring on a daily basis. We can wake up every day and honestly reflect, set our intentions and simply be mindful of where we are at. Thank you Irmi for reminding us that being an entrepreneur means that we are born with a powerful destiny, a passion that extends our purpose wider than our immediate family circle. She explains that entrepreneurs are born to bring more to more people. When we can bring value consistently to those around us, we build trust and reliability with those we add value to within (employees, partners, customers, vendors) and outside of our business (family, friends, ourselves). Not reaching your fulfilment would be a travesty to us all. Look after YOU.


Work with Irmi L


“Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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