Here’s the best explanation of burnout I’ve seen:

… burning out isn’t just about work load, it’s about work load being greater than the motivation to do work.

The context is a former consultant saying that heavy course loads at MIT did not burn him out, but an easy job doing dishonest consulting work did.

From The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell.

Related post: The most subtle of the seven deadly sins

4 thoughts on “Burnout

  1. This is a great find, and I think accounts for the incredibly low morale and high turnover rates at large corporations and other businesses, where productivity is so low.

  2. This is a great quote. Its true too.

    Ive worked everything from intellectual labor to creative labor to hard physical labor. I remember times when I was awake for four days straight due to work demand. I remember working hard for jobs I love and working hard for jobs that didnt pay well. The only time Ive ever been burned out was the one time I was in a dead end position and I knew it. The pay and the work load was decent otherwise.

    Interesting, and oh so true.

  3. It is completely and positively true. At my former job, I (at times) would work 80 hours a week for several weeks at a time. Only after our company was bought out by a global conglomerate did I experience burnout, working 45 hrs/week. A corollary to this (since you’re a math geek, I knew you would enjoy a corollary) is this: the #1 reason for job dissatisfaction is being shouldered with the RESPONSIBILITY of making something happen without being given the AUTHORITY to make necessary decisions. …Or maybe this is the theorem, and the burnout statement is the corollary. Either way, interesting perspectives.

  4. I once read that stress is the fever of burnout. So you can have stress and this signifies a burnout might be near, but taking away the stress does not necessarily reduce the risk of burnout. Stress does not always have to lead to burnout: “high job-demands cause stress, but it is the level of autonomy and the level of respect that determine the ‘color’ of that stress.”

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