The cure for exhaustion

Warning! Your connection has been
lost. You must re-establish your
connection to continue working.

It was almost midnight when the message
flashed across my computer screen. I was
alone in my office, working on a report that
was due the next day. I was tired and had no
time to waste. But now, I was forced to wait,
staring at the message that had unexpectedly interrupted my typing.

Your connection has been lost. There was
truth in those words that went far beyond my
company’s computer network. For months, I
had been conscious of a growing emptiness
as I worked each day.

On the surface, nothing had changed. I had
a position that many would envy, and I was
working for a good company that valued my
contributions. But where once my job had
been an exciting adventure, it had now
somehow become an obligation that I had to
force myself to fulfill.

Although I could still remember a time
when I was excited to begin each day —
a time when I faced both the challenges
and the successes of my work with
enthusiasm — I was now caught in a
spiral that was slowly taking me down.

Are you in this same spiral? Do you
feel more exhausted each day from the
effort to fulfill your role? Whether
you’re leading a team at work, teaching a
classroom of students or managing a
household, it happens to all of us. And
when it does, there is only one answer, an
answer that is one of the greatest lessons in
the business of life — you must re-establish
your connection.

Without the energy and inspiration of a
real connection to your work, you will
never experience the success, or the fulfillment, that you want. But once you find it, it
can fuel a level of performance beyond your

  • Find a deeper connection to the people
    around you. Do you really know the people
    with whom you work closely? Do you feel
    that you are part of a team or are you an outsider with little sense of belonging?

    Start to build a connection to the people
    you work with by simply listening. Listen to
    their thoughts and ideas, as well as the stories about their families and their lives.
    Really listen to what they have to say without
    processing other background thoughts, interrupting or checking your Blackberry.

    The more you do this, the more you will
    create a connection of understanding and
    trust, a connection that will give you a sense
    of belonging and inclusion that can become
    one of the most important elements of the
    work you do.

  • Find a deeper connection to your personal excellence. Are you proud of the work you
    do? If not, challenge yourself to reach a higher standard.

    When you choose a personal standard,
    such as, “I will keep every commitment I
    make,” you set in motion a force that establishes what’s important to you and makes
    you accountable for living up to it. The pride
    you feel when you set a standard for excellence, and then achieve it, will forge a powerful personal connection to your work.

  • Find a deeper connection to your real purpose. Do you see your work as part of something important?

    If I view my job of running a staffing company as simply a series of business goals and
    financial objectives, I only tap into a fraction
    of the passion I feel when I remember that
    our real purpose is finding jobs for people
    who need them. Seeing a larger purpose in
    what you do brings inspiration to even the
    most mundane tasks and connects you to
    your work in a deeply meaningful way.

    Sitting in my office that night I vowed to reestablish my connection to the work I was
    doing and, in the end, I was successful. But
    in the process, I learned something vitally

The real cure for exhaustion is not rest. The
cure for exhaustion is to establish a wholehearted connection to what you do. This
connection will give you the sustaining energy of meaning, purpose and pride, not only in
your work, but in who you are.

JIM HULING is CEO of MATRIX Resources, Inc., an IT services
company that has achieved industry-leading financial growth while
receiving numerous national, regional and local awards for its values-based culture and other work-life balance programs. The company was recently named one of the 25 Best Small Companies to
Work for in America for the second year in a row by the Great Place
to Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management.
In 2005, Huling was awarded the Turknett Leadership Character
Award for outstanding demonstration of integrity, respect and
accountability. Reach him at [email protected].