In my last post I defined/describe how I interpreted the six levels of grit. In today’s writing I will use my personal experience from over twenty five years ago when I declared bankruptcy. The experience was that of being “burned out.” I don’t have to go far to remind myself of what took place back then, what I looked like and what it felt like. I simply have to look at a picture of myself from that time period and the memories come flooding back. By Feb of 1996 at 48 years old, I wasn’t burnt out; I was burnt to a crisp. Straight up at that time there was very little left of me physically, mentally or emotionally. It would take years of, in FRC terms, active recovery, that being; adequate sleep, time spent in nature, proper nutrition and hydration to name a few of the protocols, for me to be able to regain my health. Today even after experiencing the health events mentioned earlier in this thread I work daily at my academy with no residual effects from either and my health is good.
In covering the six burnout triggers as defined by FRC I most certainly can say that in 1996 I checked all the boxes, I scored a perfect six for six. I hope that as you read this you are not in that situation but if perchance you are please take solace, that there is hope and there are solutions.
Trigger number one is “lack of control.” In thinking back to that time I can with a certainty say that not only did I not have control over the external situations in my life. We were sinking deeper into debt daily our band was on its last legs and I was powerless to correct or diminish the impact of what was taking place. While at the same time I had no concept of how to take control over my internal challenges, those being my; my mental, physical and emotional health, I was one exposed frayed nerve. There was no area in my life that I felt I had any control over, period. Understanding what I’m learning now definitely helps to explain what was happening then.
Trigger number two is “values conflict.” This was a box easy to check for me. When I started playing bass guitar and singing harmony in the mid seventy’s I could think of nothing better to do with my life. Everything I valued was tied up in these two actions. Playing bass and singing backup were supporting roles in making music. They weren’t front and center but they were fundamental in the creation of the overall sound; I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately that was not to last long, my values were to become compromised as I got sucked deeper into the “business” of music. As the song goes “there’s no business like show business.” The key word here is business and in business it’s all about the money. The more I got caught up in the “business” the more I was willing to compromise my values and by 1996 those values had been whittled down to pretty much nothing. Pictures of me from that time say it all, I was a crispy critter.
“Insufficient reward” succinctly sums up trigger number three. The fact that I declared bankruptcy that year confirms that this box definitely contributed to my burnout. Even though at the end we were primarily playing in and around the city of Vancouver BC the money from the local gigs would barely cover our families living expenses and did little to pay down the accumulated debt from our years on the road. From the financial end we were sinking into insolvency but that could not compare to the mental, emotional and physical toll it had taken over the past years, on my wife, myself and my children.
In the beginning playing music and singing backup were for me a spiritual experience; it was incredibly rewarding and special. To witness myself over the years slowly, willingly, compromise those precious moments for a few dollars more and the beckoning lure of the bright lights simply shriveled my soul. When the day came that I had to acknowledge that the reward was insufficient all I had left was poor health and shattered dreams.
Burnout comes from all manner of causes; trigger number fours cause is “work overload.” As I was studying this trigger it took me back to that period of my life, that to be honest I don’t know how I had the good fortune to recover from but by the grace of god I did. This trigger reminded me of the many years we spent on the road. Anywhere from my home town of Vancouver BC to Winnipeg Manitoba, east to west, a distance of over 1,400 miles or from Vancouver to Watson Lake Yukon south to north a distance of over 1,200 miles and all point in between. There were many times on the road where, after playing all week we’d finish the gig at 1AM on a Sat night break everything down, load it into the van and drive all night to get to the next gig and do it all over again the following Sat night. We felt fortunate when we were booked for a two week gig in one town which allowed us a Sunday off to rest and recuperate or were booked into Vancouver for a few weeks so we could enjoy our own home cooking and sleep in our own beds. These times were few and far between but we definitely enjoyed them when they happened.
When we’re pursuing our dreams we are always more than willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the desired results but as we see that dream slowly becoming a distant reality the necessary work to continue to pursue it starts taking its toll and “work overload” become the new reality with the inevitable burnout at the end.
A lot of thinking went into the last two triggers; “Unfairness” and “Lack of Community.” Unfairness can be applied in more than one way. For me at that time I related it as that of being a victim and that life had treated me unfairly. In my own mind I was convinced we had and were doing everything correctly to achieve both artistic and financial success. Even with the truth staring me in the face I wasn’t prepared to admit or accept the fact that at best I/we had done the minimum and had earned the result we received. I chose instead to play the life’s “unfair” card. It would take me a few years and a complete realignment of my thinking before I could hold myself accountable and accept my responsibility in what transpired in the years leading up to 1996.
“Lack of Community” this is a tough one for me and has throughout my life been an issue. So I have my own very unique take on this trigger. Over the first seventy five years of my life I have done what I could to find a community to integrate with and for periods of times have found community but for whatever reason thing would change or I would change and I would find myself once again seeking to find another group. As I write this I realize that the last part of the previous statement was a critical contributing factor to my burning out in 1996. I could never seem to settle down; I would consistently iterate on the things in my life, I couldn’t stay still, I had to keep moving. That hasn’t changed but what has changed in me is that now I can accept this fact about myself. I’m finally comfortable with the feeling of “lack of community.”
My hope here in using the burn out experiences of my life is to give you the reader some context and contrast as to where you might be in your life. If you can relate to any of these six triggers understand that there is always hope there will always be solutions.
You can find out more about me at https://www.lornedavidson.com .
See you again soon.
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