Five Tips and Tricks to Avoid Burnout

by Menzie Pittman • in
  • Small Business Matters
• Created: June 14, 2017

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Owners and managers operate at a very fast pace, but it’s not the pace that we need to be hyper-focused on; it is the prolonged exposure to running at such high RPMs that is critical.

Leaders lead, and when there are issues, we are always the first call. You earn that position because it is only given to those who have demonstrated that they can handle extraordinary pressure.

So, let’s take a moment and look at good practices that provide relief from potential burnout.

1) The best trick in the business: start with admission!

Early on in my career, like so many, I needed to prove I could hit the mark, and for me it wasn’t enough to hit it once; I needed to hit that sucker like Muhammad Ali. Fortunately, as I have grown in my career and in my life, I have embraced the understanding that it’s a long game, and rest and rejuvenation are key factors in sustaining success.

But here is a secret that I feel is important to share. Success is not a business term, nor is it a financial term. Success is an understanding, a feeling, and an awareness. It is a condition. Success is the result of being happy with not only what you have accomplished, but also who you are as a person. Therefore, to be successful you must be centered, and that’s the simple truth we must embrace. We should start with the admission that maybe we need rest and a healthier balance between work and life.

2) Hitting the gym versus changing your thoughts

I am a fan of good gyms for the obvious reasons. Your body is the foundation of everything. One thing to keep in mind: if you are in good physical shape yet are un-grounded in other areas of your life, you will remain stressed.

Interestingly, when addressing stress, most folks only address the physical, but that’s a one-dimensional approach. While they get the physical part of the solution right, they don’t practice a balanced life routine. When you are a business owner, or a key person in an operation, the stress is not only physical, it is emotional as well. That’s why a gym won’t get it all done. You really must look into less obvious and better routines and awareness.

3) The most overlooked secret is changing the way you think and feel

We are musicians, right? So, put on your creative hat and join me on an escapade into better ways. We will start with Bobbie McFerrin: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” In coping with work stress, 99 percent of our daily problems could be dealt with more effectively if we could avoid entering the “upset-anger” space. Certainly, I am not saying this is easy, but you have better clarity and are much more creative in arriving at workable solutions to problems when you are not upset or angry.

Here is an even more important take away. When you remain happy, you don’t send your chemistry into the twilight zone; that alone is reason enough to control your reactions to daily problems. Speaking of chemistry, you are what you eat, so you must get that right as well. Your ability to perform simply depends on it.

4) Follow Willie Nelson’s advice and “Just Breathe”

Seriously, let’s talk “real” stress-reducing solutions. Relaxing with a focus on breath control is used in any yoga, martial arts practice, or guided meditation. It’s a no-brainer for musicians because we do it in our music every day. All horn players, singers, and drummers have to focus on breath control to perform well. So why not incorporate this skill into your daily routine to reduce stress?

5) The Beatles advised us long ago to “Slow Down”

If you are like most business leaders, you are bombarded daily with information. You can’t outrun it. Even if it’s not something you need to act on, there is still a scroll and a click to get it moved from your in-box or purged from your computer or phone. This only gets worse as we move deeper into technology, and we all know technology only gets faster as more information bombards us daily. The really ugly truth, folks, is our addiction to mobile devices is increasing. Gone are the days when we could get up from our computers and walk away from the information onslaught. Be honest, when was the last time you walked away from your phone? I would venture to say it was a long time ago. Therefore, now more than ever it helps to incorporate an important but simple trick. Change what you focus on, and do the opposite. If you are crazy busy in your routine, then schedule un-plugged personal time. Demand it from yourself. If you are a key individual in your work, that means you are a key person twice over because everyone is a key individual in his or her family.

In closing

My cue comes from Take Six. If you listen to their epic song, “A Quiet Place,” they remind us that as we start and finish and maintain our day, we need periods of solitude. It may be the most important decision you ever make.

Menzie Pittman is the owner and director of education at Contemporary Music Center in Virginia (CMC). Following a performance and teaching career spanning more than 32 years, he founded CMC in 1989 and continues to perform, teach, and oversee daily operations. He has 50 years of musical experience as a drummer and drum instructor. Menzie is a frequent speaker at NAMM’s Idea Center, and a freelance writer for MMR’s “Small Business Matters” column. He served on NAMM’s Board of Directors from 2012 through 2015 and currently oversees the curriculum for CMC’s performance venue @4410. In 2016 NAMM awarded Contemporary Music Center the “Dealer of the Year” award, the “Music Matters” award, and the “Best Sales and Promotion” award.

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