Hannah Austin Talks All About Nonprofit Burnout

Hannah Austin Burnout Fundraisng Superheroes
 
 
It's easy to get caught in the cycle of burnout but hard to get out. Many nonprofit employees are dealing with high-stress environments regularly, which paired with the already demanding work of a charitable organization, can create the perfect opportunity for burnout to creep in.  

Hannah Austin is a highly sought-after corporate leader and management professional specializing in managing and preventing burnout or professionals. As the CEO and founder of She Shatters, LLC, she draws on her experience consulting and coaching corporate leaders to provide employees at the mid to high point of their careers with the support may need to burn brightly without burning out.

Top 3 Takeaways 


  1. Healing burnout means more than self-care. You should take time for yourself while also finding opportunities to change your mentality towards work. Recovering from burnout involves rewiring any harmful patterns you developed over time and healing the inner dialogue you have with yourself.
  2. Try to find time to pause and reflect on what you’re feeling. Over time it’s easy to get lost in your work and take extra responsibilities and opportunities as a compliment. But when these opportunities arise, take a second and ask yourself if they are truly serving you or if you need to set a boundary to avoid burnout. 
  3. You have to help yourself before you can help others. Guilt is a feeling that often accompanies burnout. It shows up differently for everyone and makes it hard to give yourself the space you need to heal. Why should you take time off when there are so many others that need you? While it can be hard, the truth is you have to be at your best if you want to help others. 


Our Favourite Quotes 


(04:38) I have a lot of clients who have seen their mom or dad work two or three jobs or the societal expectation is if I'm not working full-time job and having a side hustle and being an Instagram freak that I'm not living a successful life. And so a lot of times it's the shoulds in your head and society that are causing these feelings of burnout and feeling like you're never going to be enough.

(08:33) I would say for those of us who have empathetic personalities and those of us who choose not for nonprofit or being in a healthcare world. You cannot say to someone, you need to be healthy or you need to be working on a homeless charity or whatever it is for the not for profit. Until you can literally be physically able to show up at work. And when you're mentally burned out and physically burned out and you're exhausted, you're not being your best self.

(09:11) The reality is, if you are not a whole person, you cannot be whole for someone else

Transcript

Sabrina
Let's discuss nonprofit burnout with Hannah Austin.

Hello and welcome to the Fundraising Superheroes podcast. I'm your host, Sabrina Sciscente, and as an innovator in nonprofit technology, our team at Driven is determined to help you to make the most out of your fundraising. We specialize in donor, volunteer, and member management. I would love to talk to you about your fundraising goals. Give us a visit at trustdriven.com if you'd like to learn more.

Burnout is a serious problem facing the workforce today. More and more people are feeling excessively tired, overworked, and often struggle to get the help they need to heal from their burnout. Luckily, you're not alone. There are resources and people out here who want to help you, and today's guest, Hannah Austin is here to teach you how to burn bright instead of burning out. Hannah Austin is a highly sought after corporate leader and management professional specializing in the management and prevention of burnout or professionals. As the CEO and founder of She Shatters, LLC, she draws on her experience consulting and coaching corporate leaders to provide employees at the mid to high point of their careers with the support may need to burn brightly without burning out.

She's the host of she Burns Podcast. I'm so excited to have her on the show today. So thank you, Hannah, for joining me.

Hannah
Thanks for having me.

Sabrina
So can you start off by just giving our audience a definition of what burnout is? What does it look like?

Hannah
Oh, gosh. If you want the real definition, it's a kind of a state of emotional mental, often physical exhaustion, and it's brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Right. This isn't just a bad day at work. It's basically a variety of your dominoes have fallen and you just have nothing left.

Sabrina
Definitely that feeling of, like, depletion, no energy, kind of being like, why can't I just get through my day?

Hannah
Yeah. And I think a lot of people question themselves, like, what's wrong with me? Why am I not able to handle this? Or is it just a bad day? And the reality is, it isn't. Right. The reality is it's an ongoing, prolonged issue that sometimes you just can't get through. And you think you're alone, but you're not.

Sabrina
One of the things I've noticed that a lot of people, especially in the nonprofit industry, is that a lot of guilt kind of accompanies those feelings of burnout where you just want to take a break. You keep telling yourself, I need a day off. I just need some time to myself, but you just can't let go. Do you find that guilt often accompanies like those feelings of burnout?

Hannah
It's really the number one issue. I mean, it comes down to you are often trapped in a situation, and you think it's just about work. But I'll use work in this example where you're looking around your office or on zoom right, in our case, and saying, I know I'm burned out, and I can tell Sabrina's burnt out and other people as well, but I don't want to leave this company because I love my coworkers or I feel guilty about leaving. It's almost like you're surviving a car accident and they're still going to be there, right. So you feel like you can't leave or you feel like you feel guilty for doing self care or taking the day off, but the reality is if you don't, it's going to wind up being catastrophic for you health wise and emotionally.

Sabrina
How do people even start to overcome these feelings of guilt? You kind of you sums it up perfectly. But I feel like there's almost like this comparison where, yeah, but they have more on their plate and I can take on a few more things or they have it a lot worse than me. I guess I can push through. How do you start to break through from that mindset?

Hannah
Well, that is a great question. So I get asked this question all the time so much that I am writing a book on how to basically break through burnout and get off on the other side. So I basically call it how do you revive yourself from the ashes of burnout? How do you become that phoenix rising? And really it's around a couple pronged approach. It's looking at yourself individually like, what can I own as far as my burnout? Looking at your situation. So is it an organizational issue? Are you at a not for profit that you have no staff and you're all burning the candle at both ends? Where are you really wanting to go with this? Do you want to leave your job? So you have to kind of look at the whole situation, really assess what's happening and then it comes down to kind of that inner critic, right, who is talking to you? Is it your gut instinct? Is it your heart? Is it your lack of sanity brain? Because you're so overloaded? So you really need to rewire your inner critic voice. And it sounds very easy, but you need to kind of do a deep dive internally and figure out where is this internal dialogue coming from?

Is it coming from, for example, I have a lot of clients who have seen their mom or dad work two or three jobs or the societal expectation is if I'm not working full time job and having a side hustle and being an instagram freak that I'm not living a successful life. And so a lot of times it's the shoulds in your head and society that are causing these feelings of burnout and feeling like you're never going to be enough. And so that enough to you is if it's not hard, then it shouldn't be worth it. So I think it's really around adding yourself to your new todo list. Burnout is not going to be solved by selfcare. Like everyone who says that they're going to sell out a burnout. I can tell you right now from a recovering burnout, that is not going to do it. It really requires internal dialogue and rewiring those old negative patterns.

Sabrina
Yeah. And you've worked in health care yourself. And we've had a conversation previously on how close you get to your work and how emotionally attached you can be. And that also contributes to making it really hard to pull away. How have you dealt with stress in the workplace when you feel like, again, so emotionally connected to your work?

Hannah
Yeah, I mean, I think many of us, I think this program is mostly around not for profits. And being in that world, I can so relate. And being in the healthcare world. I grew up in healthcare. At the age of 21, I managed the largest assisted living in the state of Oregon. I was 21 years old. I had 50 employees and they were all older than me. Right. I was a young person. So for me, I basically set the stage early on that I was going to burn out. I basically created an environment where I was constantly trying to be better, more successful, reaching and climbing the ladder. And so I created this kind of mentality in my mind that in order to be successful, I had to do XYZ, I had to get my MBA. And so, to be honest with you, I didn't master or learn how to take care of myself until the last year and a half when I literally crashed and burned in the hospital that I was managing. So I felt like I needed to be relied on or counted on, that I was the go to person at work and I relished in that.

Right. A lot of us feel like if you're valuable at work, if your coworkers rely on you, or if your boss gives you that extra project, it's almost like, oh, thanks so much. But really the lesson I learned this year was stop, pause and reassess. Is this working for me, kind of seeing the situation from 1000 foot level and really figuring out ways that I could take care of myself. Right. And for me, it was leaving my organization for other people that can be staying but taking a lower job or pivoting to a different department. But whatever it is, it's really around figuring out how do you separate yourself from work and how to be a whole person without your job defining you.

Sabrina
One of the subjects that I've come across when I was doing research for nonprofit burnout and just nonprofit work in general is compassion fatigue. So it's really easy when you're in a situation where it's really heavy topics, you're dealing with people who are sick for an improved situation. Again, going back to that, feeling guilt, feel guilty and feel almost depressed because you're in a situation where it's just a problem with outweighing the solution. How do you begin tackling that? How do you maintain a positive outlook in such a dark situation?

Hannah
You know, for me, I personally have always been a very positive person, and burnout was a dark moment in my life. I mean, it was the darkest of the dark. I was contemplating, to be honest with you, committing suicide from the outside. Everybody looking at me said, she's got a successful career and she has a successful partner and she's got two homes and she drives an Audi. Like, it looks great on paper, but inside I was an absolute disaster. So I think for me- I would say for those of us who have empathetic personalities and those of us who choose not for nonprofit or being in a healthcare world. You cannot say to someone, you need to be healthy or you need to be working on a homeless charity or whatever it is for the not for profit. Until you can literally be physically able to show up at work. And when you're mentally burned out and physically burned out and you're exhausted, you're not being your best self. So therefore, you can't be a great parent, you can't be a good caregiver, you can't be a good partner. And ultimately, I always hate it when people say, put that oxygen mask on yourself first.

But the reality is, if you are not a whole person, you cannot be whole for someone else, for some organization. So really it's about tapping into why it is and what it is that drives you as a person and what brings you joy versus just a job or just a role. And it's a hard lesson. I'm still learning the lesson day after day. To be honest. Sometimes I could fall back into those old workaholic patterns, which is easy to do as a podcaster and an entrepreneur. But I have a sticky note here that just basically reminds me as a whole person to just stop, pause and reassess. Is this working for you today? And I think every day you have to look at it that way. Is this working for me?

Sabrina
Yeah, I think that was the hardest thing that I started with. And I was experiencing Burnout in one of my positions where it was like, why isn't this working? And I kept asking myself, Why isn't this working? I didn't even ask, do you even want it to work? If it's causing you this much stress, should it be working? So I think that's great advice is taking a step back, really assessing how things are making you feel, and then kind of having a plan to move forward is so important.

Hannah
And I think the other piece about Burnout is you're not thinking clearly. Like, when you're in a burnout situation, you're so fatigued on every level. You're just like food, water. But one of the things that I have really learned, I would say just in the last probably year and a half, two years, has been to ask for help. I think often as women and professionals in general, we feel like we can go at it alone and inner critic rears her ugly head like, well, if Sabrina is working and she's burned out, but she's still surviving through it, I should be, too. And it's that should and that judgment. And the reality is Sabrina is probably thinking the same thing about you. And it's really interesting when you finally are honest and let the guard down and say to your coworker, like, I'm not doing well. They're like, me too. Let's not do well together. It feels so much better when you're just able to be honest and true. And I hate the word again, authentic. It's so overused. But just see who you really are and say, sabrina, I'm not okay today. I'm in a dark place.

Hannah
And I think that's why we're having the shooter situation. We're having so much unrest in our society because we're not saying we're not well, we're not saying we're not healthy. Right. We're not saying we're burned out, and we're at our max level. So I think the more we talk about it and the more we're honest about it, it kind of socializes.

Sabrina
It oh, totally. Socialization is huge. You recently had a conversation with Pam Ford on your podcast, and she set a point about having imposter syndrome, and she had this feeling of, like, I don't belong here. Is it me? And that really hit home because when you feel like it's you and you're not worthy and you're not doing enough, as you mentioned, it's really hard to reach out and get help.

Hannah
Yeah, actually, I'm working on a chapter right now in my book that is really around how do you get out of those negative patterns of I'm not worthy? And how do you bring to light kind of that second guessing of yourself? What do you do when you're constantly second guessing yourself? And how do you get out of that call? That emotional mirror go round. Right, because it's that vicious cycle, and it can magnify when you're already in a dark place. So I'm really excited about this book coming out because it's like, literally how to exercises to deal with these practical things that you need in order to get out of the merry ground. Off the merry ground or out of the ditch of burnout?

Sabrina
I would love to touch on how nonprofit employers can better support their employees because we hear so much about these really intense environments having high demands, not having enough resources or time to meet them. So how could organizational leaders better support their staff?

Hannah
I feel like when we talked about this question before and now that you're asking me, I feel like not for profits almost have a better outlook on how they can actually solve this problem. Right. So, naturally, similar to health care, people want to be there because they care about the cause or care about the mission. Right. Same with health care. We don't become nurses or doctors or managers in health care. We don't care about people living or keeping them alive. Right. So I think that, first and foremost, don't throw everything in the kitchen sink, all these programs and employees because it overwhelms them. It's really down to how are you feeling about your role for each individual person. Stop, pause, and reassess all of those workflows and priorities that you have as a non for profit. Do these things actually need to be done in this rapid manner? Right. So from, like, now to the end of the year, what are the strategic priorities that you have to do to keep the lights on at the not for profit, not only from a financial standpoint, but also from a cultural standpoint? What are our top three things that we're going to focus on from now to the end of the year in relation to employee leadership, employee mentality, employee sanity?

And then I always ask the leaders to make a list of their employees who are on their team and what their why is. For example, if I was your manager, I would say I have a one in one with you and say, Sabrina, how has the Pandemic been for you? What are you looking forward to the rest of the year? What are your goals personally as well as professionally? How can I help you get there? And I think instead of just the normal rounding, it's really asking, what do you need from me as a leader for your health and health to get through the rest of the year? I'm also big at managing people's strengths. So if, again, you were my direct reporter and I was your manager, I would look across my whole entire team and pair each other up with different projects. So Sabrina may have more of an analytical perspective, reagan may have more of a cultural perspective, and really have cross functional teams that are diverse in nature that, one, solves a diverse inclusion problem, that, two, creates more creativity, and three, you get to know your team, so it fosters a sense of teamwork.

And then I firmly am a huge believer in adopting an employee first model. If you don't have employees and we've seen this through the pandemic, you have no business. So adopt an employee first model and then a mission alignment and strategic alignment as well.

Sabrina
Fantastic. Yeah. Before we wrap up today, I'd love to hear your thoughts on resiliency. The theme for the second season of your podcast is resiliency, and you've been asking a lot of your guests what that word means to them. So I'd love to hear, what does it mean for you?

Hannah
Yeah, so I used to think that resilience was about going through any situation at any cost. Right. There's survival mentality, putting up with something difficult and figuring it out on my own. I can do it. Harnessing my inner critic and just grinning and burying it, right. That's what I was taught in my generation. Now, going through my Burnout journey, interviewing thousands of people, talking with people, overall, it's all about the whole person. So knowing that I don't have to do it alone, asking for help and choosing to go in the direction of the river of my life, I call it choosing to flow where the river is flowing and riding the waves of resiliency versus bucking it or not harnessing the resiliency of it. So asking for help and choosing really to go with the flow and being more adaptable and using resiliency is an opportunity. If something goes wrong or there's something that's an obstacle in my way, really figuring out how I can turn that into a more creative and innovative solution.

Sabrina
Yeah, that's a great place for our listeners to start. Definitely. Yeah, I love to hear. And for those listening, how can people get in touch with you? What resources do you have available right now that they can take advantage of?

Hannah
Yeah, so we have a ton of free resources on the website at www.cshetters.com. We have a family. Burnout Guide. We have a quiz, a fun quiz. Are you burned out? And then what to do with that? And then we also have a toolkit for people to purchase that's basically going to put them through all of the exercises I talked about today of how to get out of Burnout, how to harness your inner critic, and how to develop a plan for a life that you love moving forward after Burnout. So also visit us on Instagram @sheshattersllc.

Sabrina
Well, thank you again, Hannah, for joining me on the show. I have linked all of this resources in the description box and like Hannah mentioned, her website is the perfect place to go to if you need help on recovering from your Burnout journey. They have a ton of resources there, as well as a way to get in contact with Hannah. If you would like to work with her, and if you'd like to learn more about fundraising and fundraising technology, we are here to help. You can give us a visit at trustdriven.com or you can listen to previous episodes of the podcast as well as access our other resources that will help you unlock your fundraising potential. Thank you so much for listening to the show and we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes.


 

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