Editor’s note: Triangle entrepreneur and thought leader Jes Averhart, CEO of Jes & Co and host of the “Reinvention Road Trip,” is a regular WRAL TechWire contributor who explores topics pertaining to reinvention, especially prompted by the onset of the global pandemic. Her columns appear weekly.

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – So… some of you know that we ran a burnout recovery beta program over the holidays. The program, called Reinvention Rest Stop: Living Beyond Burnout turned out to be a wealth of insight including one in particular that struck me as so surprising that I decided to share it here today.

Drum roll, please…

Jes Averhart

Apparently, using the escape hatch to run to isolation is not central to burnout recovery.

In other words, the majority of our living beyond burnout participants were actually seeking out community. They wanted to spend time with other people who were also feeling exhausted so they could compare notes, share recovery ideas and cheer each another on.

Here’s why it surprised me. Ask any burned out person the following questions and you’ll hear pretty much the same thing…

· How do you feel about your work schedule? (Too much! Cancel all my meetings, please and thank you.)

· How do you feel about your social schedule? (Too much! I wish I could say no to everything and just watch Netflix.)

· What do you want to do right now, more than anything? (Live alone on a deserted island in Tahiti for the next month.)

I’d wager that very few say they’re desperate for more meetings, more social obligations and more Zoom calls.

So… when we launched our program, we debated whether or not to include a virtual cohort experience in addition to our book, workbook and daily inspiration. Weekly Zoom meetings? We hesitated at the very suggestion of it. Afterall…this was a burnout program.  Seemed cruel to add another meeting.

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Yet, to our astonishment, our beta testers told us that the cohort was not only helpful it was absolutely essential. In fact, they told us they looked forward to it more than anything else, and that the group sessions provided an anchor for long-lasting change.

Additionally, we began to come to terms with the fact that it helped participants break free of the toxic effects of Performance Culture.

What am I talking about? During our hour together, participants looked to each other for assurances that it was okay to rest or fall behind. These ‘high performers’ were seeking permission to break their burnout habits and establish new norms outside Performance Culture.

And while there’s certainly good that comes from Performance Culture, there’s a shadow side as well, which we’ll explore in our upcoming series.

Until then, keep in mind that what you think you need and what you actually need to banish burnout might be different. Consider using this next week to experiment. Rather that run away from the discomfort of burnout, share your thoughts and fears with someone instead. You might be surprised at how that one decision will free you up and create room to start living beyond burnout.