Flame-Proof Yourself

How exactly does a remodeler avoid the rather trite and clichéd burnout? It's only expected that, being entrepreneurial in the first place (what makes a lot of us succeed at what we do) we go at everything with, to quote a very old beer commercial, "the gusto." So as we work hard to build, maintain and grow our business, how do we prevent feeling like we just can't do anymore, can't take another d...

April 30, 2008

Greg Miedema
Advisory Board Columnist

How exactly does one avoid the rather trite and clichéd burnout? It’s only expected that, being entrepreneurial in the first place (what makes a lot of us succeed at what we do) we go at everything with, to quote a very old beer commercial, “the gusto.”

So as we work hard to build, maintain and grow our business, how do we prevent feeling like we just can’t do anymore, can’t take another day or can’t handle one more phone call, one more customer, one more trade partner, one more building official, ad infinitum?

Sure, it’d be nice to say “just relax and slow down,” but that often doesn’t meld with reality. And you can’t slam on the brakes; slow and steady pressure is the best way to slow any speeding vehicle.

First ask yourself why you're in business? Is it financial gain? Independence? Image? Creative release? No one else will hire you?

Now think about those things that get you that gain, independence, creative release or whatever it is that brought you here in the first place. And then think about what you’re doing that is NOT moving you closer to those things.

Then sort them. Throw out what’s not helping, reassign what you can, move work assignments where possible, and focus on those things that you like, things that are your key competencies and that not just improve your business but better your person and spirit.

Avoiding burnout to me is finding satisfaction and fun in everything I do. That doesn’t mean I love every minute of every day or every contact with every person. But it does mean that at the end of the week, month or year, I am happy with what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

There are things you can do that will begin to reflect the satisfaction and enjoyment that first drew you to this field.

Have fun. Greet your prospect or customer with a smile, a joke, a comment to build rapport.

Make lunch time, or break time (here in Arizona we take a couple short breaks during the day rather than lunch, to get us out of the heat sooner) a refreshing break, not just a regimented refueling. Make plans to meet a co-worker, an associate, a vendor or maybe even someone from your local HBA. Don’t have a business lunch, have a friendly get-together to share some laughs and light conversation.

Cultivate real friendships among your co-workers, employees, trades and vendors. You’ll find business and work run smoother when everyone is concerned about each others’ welfare. Take a REAL interest in what’s going on in others’ lives; adding a personal and human interest side to work makes it seem more like life — which it is. Remember, we spend more of our active hours working than we do anything else. You better find a way to make that minimally tolerable, better yet satisfying, and even better, fun and enjoyable.

Have a get-together without a holiday — just because it’s a good weekend to see each other. Yeah, go ahead, warn me about being too friendly with the help, but I won’t listen.

I don’t think avoiding burnout is finding that special key release, like the Saturday night keg party but rather finding a job description that includes the words fun, sense of humor, and enjoyment.

I credit the words I live by to what my father taught me: remember every day to love what you do, do what you love. If you can do that, you’ll never work another day in your life.

I don’t go to work. I go to have fun and fall into work periodically during the day.


Author Information
Greg Miedema is president of Dakota Builders in Tucson, Ariz., and has been designing and remodeling homes in the Tucson area for over 20 years. He can be reached at gam@dakotabuildersinc.com.

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