Why You Shouldn't Be a Superhero at Work


In today's audio postcard I'm talking about why its dangerous to be a superhero at work. 

Today's question: What is one small change you can make?

Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Rather read than listen?

This topic comes from my experience in several different jobs over the years. Jobs I enjoyed, until I didn’t.

One of the things I realized, after I had some distance from those experiences, is that one of the things that ruined it for me was trying too hard to be a superhero at work.

If you’ve ever done work in a supportive role of any kind – or if you work in any sort of helping profession – I’m betting you may find this familiar.

People who are prone to becoming superhero’s at work typically have similar values and characteristics which, if you’re not careful, can quickly lead to burnout.

Does any of this sound familiar?

You enjoy working behind the scenes

In fact, you probably prefer it that way. You’re the wizard behind the curtain. And, for the most part, you prefer it that way. But while you don’t feel the need to be in the spotlight, that doesn’t mean you don’t need recognition for the fantastic work you do.

You love to help people

Helping and supporting people gives you a sense of purpose. One of your driving motivators is that the work you do is helping someone and serves an important purpose. You were drawn to the work you do because you enjoy being in a helping role.

You feel a strong sense of dedication and commitment to your work

One of the most invaluable things about how you do your work, is your dedication and commitment to it. You take your work seriously and give it all of your energy. In fact, much of the time, you prioritize your work over your own needs. You skip lunch to get extra work done and respond to requests at all hours.

These are your super hero strengths. And they’re all wonderful things about you that are part of what makes you amazing at the work you do.

 Your superhero strengths are also your kryptonite

 Now, let me be clear, I’m not saying that you should stop caring about your work and become a selfish slacker. Those are not the only two options.

What’s important for you to know is that it’s easy to forget that even though you play a superhero at work, you are in fact a human. And as a human you have needs of your own. Needs that, unfortunately, end up neglected while you’re busy wearing your cape and metaphorically leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

You need (and deserve!) to be taken care of as well as you take care of the people you work with and for. In order to do your job well, the answer isn’t to continue to push through. The answer is to remember to rest, take breaks, do things you enjoy and take care of yourself so you can continue to have the energy to do your work.

But with your dedication and commitment to your work, that gets lost. And the more of a superhero you become - the more amazing you are at doing your job - the more the real human you gets lost in the shuffle.

Your work begins to take over more and more of your life. And you become more and more depleted. You get to the point where you’re so unfulfilled, stressed and run down that you don’t know what to do.

Here’s the simple truth. If you're not in good working order, you're not going to be able to do your job. Taking time for yourself when you know your body and mind really need it is actually you doing your job! (Despite those little voices in your head that tell you it’s selfish.)

I’m betting that you may have already realized this and you are probably frustrated and angry with yourself that you haven’t been able to do anything to change your circumstances. If this is you, I want to encourage you to give yourself some compassion. Because beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help. In fact, it’s just making you feel even more depleted than you already are.

Instead, recognize yourself for figuring out what’s going on. That’s an enormous step in the right direction.

The next step, now that you know what’s going on, is to make one small change in the right direction. That might mean scheduling a day off or planning a relaxing evening for yourself after work.

And if those seem like big changes that you don’t quite have the energy for yet, start with something even smaller. Take 5 minutes today that are totally and completely for you. And then do it again tomorrow and the next day.