Thursday, November 15, 2012

Burnout or bad boss?

I sometimes shake my head when I get phone calls and emails from people in their mid-twenties who say they're "burned out."

The phrase was coined in the seventies, and usually used to describe people in their forties and fifties who had been on the same treadmill a little too long. When I used to ride the trains in the New York area I'd see it during rush hour; the long faces of the "commuting undead" that told you they were sick of their jobs without saying a word.

I thought I was burned out around forty, having gone through a few years with a boss I couldn't stand. His management style sucked the life out of me, often putting my muse into vapor lock. I left the business for awhile, then came back. Because I wasn't burned out; my creativity was stifled by a boss who didn't understand creative people and how they're wired.

For those of you who think you're burned out, I know exactly how you feel.  You drag yourself out of bed, don't arrive in the newsroom one minute earlier than you have to, dread the bad assignments you're given. You walk on eggshells, trying not to make mistakes yet get criticized even if you don't make any. You're a member of the television undead.

Here's how you know you're not burned out. You say you don't care anymore about your stories, but you've got too much pride to phone it in. You still get a rush from knocking out a good story, or breaking an exclusive. You're looking for another job because despite the horrible conditions, you still love what you do.

There's a big difference between "Get me outta here" and "Get me outta this business."

We are ruled by a muse and challenged by a blank page. If you still want to do what you're doing, only do it somewhere else, you're not burned out. You're just working in a bad place for a bad boss.



Amanda said...

Great point. I always say I'm burnt out...good to know I'm not!

Rookie Reporter said...