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Aug. 26, 2021

111. Burnout Proof Your Life with Michael Levitt

Create a life of greater balance, time abundance, relaxation, energy, focus, and peace.

Create a life of greater balance, time abundance, relaxation, energy, focus, and peace.



Michael Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout media firm.

He is an in-person and Certified Virtual Speaker, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, bestselling author, and hosts the Breakfast Leadership Show, a top 200 podcast on iTunes.

Michael's A Top 20 Global Thought Leader on HR & Culture with Thinkers360 and a former Healthcare executive, overseeing $ 2 Billion budgets.

Michael accomplishes all of this, while working a schedule of 4 days per week.










An exercise that they call it the bucket list, which is basically have people list out all those things I mentioned that they enjoy in life and they love doing. And on the right side of each of those items, I have them right down the last time they did those things. Whenever I do that in a conference or an event or in front of a team, I hear moans and groans because people realize I'm not doing things in life I enjoy doing. And of course, I'll ask them why.


So I don't have time.


Where I welcome everybody. Today. I'm excited to introduce you to Michael Levitt. He is going to talk with us about Burnout Proofing Your life. He has a really awesome story. What she's going to share with you shortly. What really impressed me about Michael is his resume that has everything to do with being a virtual speaker, therapist, top 20 global thought leader, all these different things he's doing. And more importantly, in addition to running a leadership group that's both based in San Diego and Toronto, that he's doing all this in a four day work week schedule as I've talked with him and we've talked about managing time and ideas and trade offs.


From everything I can tell, he's the real deal. So I'm really excited to have him here. Thank you so much for joining us.


Michael, glad to be with you. A looking for Eric conversation.


Awesome. So some people have a story that's good enough that I really don't have to say much. Yours is one of those maybe share a little bit about your journey, what got you so passionate about this work and what led you here.


I appreciate that. Let's go back in time to 2007, I was hired as a healthcare executive for a startup organization just outside of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I'm a dual citizen. I immigrated to Canada in 2004 and became a citizen in 2011. So I like to joke that I can vote and script two countries, and then I leave it there because I don't want to irritate half of the population right now, so I just leave it there. I never say who I vote for. And I love everybody and we'll go from there.


But I previously had startup experience a couple of decades earlier in it and all of that. So here I am, a new healthcare executive for this startup. Never worked in health care before, so I didn't know what an autoclave was or anything like that. And I was tasked with recruiting physicians, hiring staff, and educating the community as to why our clinic was better than the other clinics in the area. So steep learning curve for me, which meant a lot of long hours. And basically the hours that I kept was basically 06:00 a.m. To 11:00 p.m., seven days a week because I was constantly on email, constantly talking with people, constantly working, researching all kinds of different things.


Now with the startup. Eventually you get out of that habit, you can start scaling back your hours. But unfortunately, that didn't happen with me. The board that I worked with was very active. So a lot of questions and a lot of engagement. And as is the community because it was a smaller community, so a lot of stakeholders in the mix. So it maintained those hours. And during that time, I rarely wasn't taking care of myself, both from a physical standpoint or a mental standpoint. And burnout crept in.


Now, I didn't know what burnout was, but I certainly had it based on looking back and seeing all the things that transpired. So you fast forward to 2009. In May, it was a Monday night, and I was mowing my front lawn. And I had an electric lawn mower because gas was expensive back then, and this mower was really bulky and hard to turn. So I mowed the first row in my lawn. And then I turned the lawn mower to mow the next row. And I felt this incredibly sharp pain in the center of my chest.


It literally felt like I pulled a muscle. It really hurt. I was having difficulty breathing. I was like, oh, that really hurt. And I couldn't finish mowing lawns, was able to get the lawn or in the backyard. And then I went inside and I took some pain medication, and the pain went away. Other than whenever I lifted anything up with my right arm, I'm left handed. So I don't tend to use my right arm as much. But occasionally I'll lift things up with it. And every time I lift anything up with my right arm, that pain came back.


It was minor. It didn't feel real bad. But it felt like literally when you train a muscle or something like that, it ages a little bit. So that proceeded on through that week. Thursday night of that week, I went out to dinner and a local restaurant had and all you can eat special. And I took them up on that offer. I ate all kinds of fried, greasy, really tasty. Really bad for your food. Wash it down with a few adult beverages. Great night. My belly was beyond full, so I get home, went to sleep.


And about 1030 that night I woke up with that pain that I had on Monday night, but it was about ten times worse. It felt like an elephant was literally stepping on my chest. At that point, I thought, okay, that's what you get for eating all of that food, dummy. So I took some antacids, finally was able to go to sleep Friday morning. That pain that I was feeling every time I lifted anything with my right arm was persistent. It wasn't going away. So I went into the office and I was working for about an hour or so.


And I'm like, okay, you know what? I need to talk with the doctor about this. This is one of the perks of working in a medical clinic. If you got a health issue, you just go over to the next room and say, hey, I've got this issue. So mentioned it to our lead physician. He said, Well, let's take a listen. So I'm literally in my office lift up my shirt, listens with the stethoscope. He said, I don't think anything is necessarily going wrong, but we've got the EKG equipment.


Why don't we go ahead and hook you up and we'll run a couple of tests just to make sure everything's okay. That's fine. So I go back into the procedure room. Our physician is there, our nurse, one of our assistants and myself. And all of a sudden they're all laughing hysterically and cracking jokes. Now the reason why is because their boss was taking his clothes off in front of them. Because I just stripped down to my underwear in order to run this test. So they're laughing on beat red.


I'm like, I can't believe this. They're making all kinds of harassment jokes. Of course, this is before me too. And Harvey Weinstein and all that good stuff. So they were just being completely inappropriate and everybody's having a great time with it except me, of course. And I'm like after they said, alright, alright, let's go ahead and get this test done so you can get back to work. So they hook up the electrodes and they run the test. They see the results in their perplexing at it going, what is going on here?


You know what? We don't use this equipment a lot. So we're going to run the test again. So I had to disconnect everything and reconnect everything back up again. And they run the test again and they get the identical results. It's like, okay. So they sent the stuff off to Dr. Gina at Hotel DeGrace Hospital in Windsor. And about ten minutes later I get a phone call from Dr. Gina and they call the office. And they said, Tell Michael to get his spot to the hospital right now and he cannot drive.


I had a pretty significant heart attack. I had two blockages in my left interior to sending artery, which has a nickname called the Widowmaker. Because usually when you have a heart attack with blockages in that artery, you die. Well, that was in 2009. It is 2021 still here. So very, very lucky. And even the cardiologist that performed the surgery to put the stents in that artery to open them back up told me you don't know how lucky you are to be here right now. So needless to say, that was a wake up call.


But that event kicked off what I refer to as my year of worst case scenarios. So 17 weeks after having my cardiac event, I go back to work to find out that they don't want me anymore. So they let me go. Now, let me remind you, the time frame here. This is 2009. Anybody remember the Great Recession? I was in Windsor, which for those of you that aren't familiar with area across the border from Windsor, Ontario, is Detroit, Michigan, where the auto sector was. The auto sector had to get bailed out by the government.


Otherwise GM, Ford and Chrysler likelihood would not be in existence today. They had to bail them out. They were all indeed trouble. So here I am, 17 weeks after heart attack, now unemployed in an area that there really is in a lot of jobs. So it took me several months to find one end up requiring a relocation up to Toronto. That was the only place I could find work because I was the interviewing everywhere. Consider going back to Chicago, where I spent some time and everywhere in between.


And I was able to find a role in Toronto. So I get up there. And that was in April of 2010. So I was let go in the fall of 2009. So several months before I was able to find a job in my new role, I was there for a couple of weeks. And then around 04:00, I get a phone call from my oldest daughter who was ten at the time and she's crying. I couldn't understand the things she was saying. And finally I was able to get from them was the bank had come and repossessed our family vehicle.


When you have a heart attack and then you lose your job and you're on medications that cost you $1,000 a month and you don't have any drug coverage, needless to say, your income is pretty significantly impacted. So I Wade to take play for the meds, of course, to keep myself alive. But that impacted our ability to pay other bills. And we worked with our creditors and anybody going through any type of financial stress I always recommend don't hide from the bill collectors, call them, keep in constant contact with them, figure out some type of way to pay something.


Even if it's $5, it'll keep them off your back in in all likelihood, hopefully they won't be repossessing your vehicle. And I don't blame the bank. I didn't meet up on the agreement. I didn't pay them. So they get to take the car back. So that was obviously pretty traumatic situation. Then in May of 2010, almost a year after the heart attack, found a place to move the family up to Toronto. So we did that and we get moved in. And after we're unpacking, we realized that we left the bunk bed ladder for our daughter's bed back to the old house.


I was going back to that area the next following week and I was going to visit some family and friends. And I said, well, just swing by the house and I'll grab that. Anything else we may have left behind. So I get to the house and after the visit and I open up the screen door in the front, and I see the biggest padlock I've ever seen in my life. I've never seen this lock at Lowe's or Home Depot, and there was a small sticker on the door, said Foreclosure.


So over a period of 369 days or just over a year, heart attack that should have killed me, lost my job during the Great Recession, had my car repossessed in my home. Foreclosed, So basically, all those things happened in a year, and all those things happen because I was burned out. I was making mistakes at work. My nutrition plan was breakfast, lunch and and or ordering in a microphone and getting a Brown bag handed to me after I paid for it. Not exercising irritable with people, just a complete train wreck of a human being.


And thankfully, had a second opportunity of life. And I took that opportunity. I said, okay, I have a choice here. One. I could play victim and blame everybody, which doesn't get you anywhere. Two. I got to say, hey, I'm Superman, even though I prefer Batman, but I'm Superman. I survived all of that. I'm invincible. Not quite. Or I need to take a look at these experiences, heal from them, and then look at figure out why did those things happen? What were my choices, my behaviors, my thought patterns that led me to burning out.


That's the option that I took. And I went down that road. And a lot of self love. I think that's one of the biggest things with people that are stress and burn out as they're hard on themselves. And you got to love yourself because there's nobody you spend more time with than you. So you got to take care of yourself in learning about burnout. What are the signs? What are the signs that I had in my life? Figure out those things. And then from there, design my life where I wouldn't burn out again.


Because you hear people say from time to time, I've been burned out a few times. Well, I was burnt out once and nearly killed me, so I'm not willing to place that bet ever again. So I did that. And then fast forward a few years because it took me a couple of years to get that. I would say, probably by 2014, after getting used to things and getting work back to work again and doing some things at work. Okay, I'm doing really well. And I looked in my counterparts.


I went back in the health care sector. My parents wanted to have me committed. They're like, Wait a minute. Our going back to the sector that nearly killed you. I told them. I said, I'm confident I can do it better this time. And I did, and I was able to do a lot. But I did it in a very constrained time frame because I focused on what do I need to do right now and match that up with my energy levels and again, this takes time to figure all these things out.


But I was noticing all my counterparts, Wade, going down the same road that I did. And I thought, this is not good. So I started talking with them about it and they say I'm going to work through it, which a lot of people that are burning out think they're going to just work through it and they work through it by working more hours. That's not what we mean by that. So I thought, okay, I need to do a little bit more research on this, start writing about and coming up with some articles and researching and all of that.


Started doing that and just started noticing that burnout wasn't limited to health care. I was seeing it in pretty much every sector under the sun. And I thought, here's an opportunity for me to take what I've learned, start writing about it, sharing the content, doing some things. So that's how I started. And then I realized, wait a minute. This actually could be a side business for me to do something about this and start building it up and all of that and launching a podcast. And fast forward to now.


It's been an absolute whirlwind of time. And you mentioned all the things that I do and I've done. But you still get to do them in this infamous four day work week is because you have to understand what's important for you to work on. Of course, that can shift from time to time. And when is the best time for you to do that? Because a lot of people say, alright, I need to do this, this, this and this. That's great. Okay. When are you going to do it?


I'll do this. On Monday, they sent you and I'll ask them, what are your energy levels like on Monday? Not good. Okay. So you got a heavy task you're going to try to do on Monday. How's that going to look? It's not going to be comfortable. So you have to get into really understanding where your energy levels are. Your interest levels are a variety of other things, external and internal and line those things up. And that takes time. And the best way for me to figure out those things was to Journal to figure out.


Okay, what did I eat today? What are my energy levels day? How am I feeling any weird ache or pain? How did I sleep? Because a lot of people say that seems like a lot of busy work. It's like, yeah, but you're responsible for one system. If you're an engineering or manufacturing and you look over an operation or a machine or things like that, you're responsible for that. Nothing needs to run perfectly in order for you to be able to do the things you need to do.


Same thing goes with you. So you need to figure out where things are. And you can notice some trends. If you notice okay. I'm not sleeping well over a period of time. Okay. What's going on? What's changed from before or every time I go out to dinner on Thursday nights at my favorite Italian restaurant, I wake up in the morning on Friday and lethargic and got a lot of indigestion or acid reflux. Maybe you have a food intolerance to what you're eating. So basically, we've heard the frame in recent years called bio hacking, and there's a lot of research going on what our bodies do and the types of inputs we have and how it impacts things.


And I'm a firm believer in studying the body from that standpoint, because if there's a way that we can figure out how we can be our optimum best, then we can set up our days to match up with that. And then the work just flows. That's a long winded answer to where I was, how I got to today, and some insights on the four hour or wish is 4 hours. Some days is four, but the four day work week.


Awesome. Thank you. So question. A lot of people think that they're going to know when they're going they're experiencing burnout. That's the same way. People everybody thinks they have a good sense of humor, and a lot of people don't. Nobody realizes when they smell the most part. What would you be saying to somebody? Or what did you say to those people that were in the same phase that you're in? How would you recognize? Because you mentioned awareness. And once you're open awareness, it comes a lot more quickly.


What's there the whole time. It's like tuning into a radio station is my experience. And for those really younger radio stations where we used to listen to music.


Anyway, he's a tune out a button that prep. Exactly. Yeah.


But plain and simply, there's this sense of once you're aware, I've changed my diet over the years and you become aware, and it's a lot easier. But how do you overcome? Because there's a certain, at least in my experience, a certain level of ego and arrogance that comes with well, they keep telling me that I'm awesome. They keep giving me more work. And anybody's an entrepreneur knows where this goes. You just get more, more work. And it says, like the guy said, what weekend of Bernie's, my dad worked really hard.


They just kept giving more work. And that's what happens. How do you identify that? And how are you able to help people recognize that when everything else that's external is saying you're doing awesome?


Key things. And the signs that I commonly see with people and teams that are burned out are on the sleep habits. Are you having difficulty sleeping? And has that been going on for a short period of time or for a long time? And I recommend a lot of work around that which lies into simplistic things. Or they sound simple, but they might be difficult to implement, depending on financing and whatnot is, make sure your mattress in your pillow is the most comfortable thing you've ever slept in.


And that means if you need to spend a lot of money to it. My mom just recently moved and she bought a new bed and she paid, I think, over $3,000 for the bed. I forgot what brand it is. They don't sponsor your show, so I'm not mentioning them. But she paid a lot of money for that bed, and I was justifying it to her because she always would buy some mattress to be 500,000 or whatever. But she paid a ton more for that. I told her, where do you spend the most consecutive amount of hours in your day?


For most people, it's going to be their bed, and that's where you're going to be for hopefully seven to 8 hours. Don't you want that to be enjoyable? Don't you want to be rejuvenating and restful and helping you heal from the damage we do to ourselves on a daily basis? The answer should be us. So that means spend the money on that, even with the pillows. Sure, you can buy a pillow from a store and pay $3 for it. It's not going to be a great pillow, or you can pay $$50 to $100.


There's a guy in my condo that I saw a few weeks ago and he bought a new pillow for his wife because they both like the same pillow. And he said, I pay $260 for this pillow. A lot of people say $260 on a pillow. Are you crazy? He sleeps amazingly. He's one of the most gentlest, happy, go lucky people I know, and it's not Strat. He's the real deal. He is just go lucky. Even during this pandemic, he's been up spired. Why he's getting good nights?


Sleep. He's restful, you know? Yes. These challenges that we're facing are difficult. So sleep is a big thing. We've talked a little bit about nutrition. I recommend people work with a nutritionist or a dietitian to figure out what your food and tolerances are. You may not know. For years I was unaware that I had a potato. Allergy I've got Irish heritage. That's kind of a rude joke if you think about it. But I have this intolerance to potatoes now. It's not. I need an EPI pen.


I'm going to be sick or potentially die type of situation. But depending on how the potatoes prepared, it might give me a little bit of nasal congestion and whatnot and never clued into that until I started getting some tests and doing some things. Because there are certain foods that aren't good for you doesn't mean that they wouldn't be good for me. It's finding those foods out and specifically with the focus of what are some good foods that you'll enjoy eating to give you natural energy and not the five hour booster shots or the $6 at 02:00 kind of thing.


You want the natural entry. So that way you don't have the big spikes in your energy level so you can find those things. Another thing too is I see this a lot with people that are burning up is they cut out things in life that they enjoy doing because they're so busy working. I don't have time. We all get the same 24 hours a day. So it's up to you on how you design that. And that's something you really need to master is how you spend your time.


But when people start cutting things out of the life that they enjoy doing, that is a huge red flag for me. It was stopped going to baseball games, SaaS a season ticket holder. So tickets were already paid for. The parking was already paid for, even had a meal pass. So my first get a couple hot dogs and a beer that was paid for. I could literally go there with no money in my wallet and go to the game, consume leave, and not spend an additional time.


And I love baseball since I was a little kid. My first career in public accounting was because of baseball cards because I opened up a PC of baseball cards at this little general store in Northern Michigan and pulled out. The first card I pulled out was Jerry Rice. He was a picture for the Pirates of the time. And I looked at the back and like, what's with all these numbers, and I was able to figure out how they calculated earned run average and then with hitters, how they did the batting average and all these other things.


And I was fascinated with that. And it actually gave me kind of a PC for my first career in accounting. So I loved baseball since I was a little kid, played it not really well, but I did play it. And I remember my dad cause something left handed. As I mentioned before, dad handed me a baseball, but Unfortunately I throw right handed and he's like, okay, throw with your left hand. And I'm trying. And it's like the panic is just not working. And he's like, try the same form.


He's trying to think I know what dad was trying to do. He's like, let's see if you can pitch left hand because if you can pitch left hand, we're going to be investing in you throwing fast balls at 97 miles an hour because you will be rich because you will be a left handed baseball player. And if you're lousy, you're still going to have a job well and later adult years. So it's like, but unfortunately, this thing is useless when it comes to throwing a ball such as life.


But those are some big signs, the sleep that not eating well and food intolerances. And stop doing things that you enjoy doing if you notice people aren't going out as much or look like a zombie all the time or just not their normal self. Those are some huge, huge signs to look out for.


Yeah, I think that's the thing that I don't know how females are raised and what messages they received as much because I wasn't raised. I was raised as a male, and I see them as a father. And I'm very sensitive to that with my daughter and I coach her volleyball team. But I know as a male, there's a lot of messages at least I received and we received in the Western world or how you want to word that suck it up, deal with it, be tougher, be stronger without even going into the don't cry, don't have emotions.


That sort of smart, but just this idea that it's a test. And granted, there is a spectrum. We happen to live in Naples, Florida. So as I tell my kids, you're growing up in a bubble. It's not real where you grow up as far as compared to the rest of the world. I mean, it is real, but there's a lot tougher situations. And I'll even find myself sometimes saying, okay, but that doesn't mean that they become super human. I just I want them to be aware.


So I explained to my kids, I say, look, the reason why I say this is I want you to understand that this is about as easy as it gets, not to put you down, but to help you realize that if you're waiting for it to get easier or better or more comfortable before you're going to be happy. Okay. We need to talk because there are people who have a lot less and it's more materialistically, of course, or comfort wise, and they're still happy because, of course, they're happy in other dimensions in their lives.


And you and I both know there's many dimensions to life, not just money and power and attention and approval, but again, as males. That's so much of what we're brought up with. I was a dorky kid with braces and a trombone and a butt cut. So how did I make up for it? I played pretty good at sports. My dad helped me learn. My dad was an athlete, and so he made sure I be taught how to skip. And I was like, okay, I have to do this.


I think sometimes it becomes so difficult for us to realize. But to your point of giving up things, I remember one of the least wise decisions I made as a young father was not a young father is old, but as a new father was that I gave up playing beach volleyball for about five or six years. That's my love. I do that every Friday now. And I did it because I thought I didn't intentionally say, okay, I'm going to do this to prove I'm a martyr.


This and that. But I did it in the sense of okay. If I'm a great father, I'm going to give everything I have this I don't have time for all that was the story I told myself. And then once I started back playing, literally six years later, I've been playing for about maybe three, four weeks in a row during my last busy season, and a friend of mine, Wade, challenged me, wait, keep that going all year long. And more than that, I told my wife one week, said, you know what?


I'm not going to play this, which is why. So now I've been playing a lot, and you're doing house stuff and this. And that because she paused her career to the house. Wade, please go play your Bible. You're a lot less happy when you don't. And she didn't say it that way, but in a different way. I'll just keep it that way. For now, it sounds nicer. And she's like, look, you're missing out. And as a male who's an athlete or just a male, and maybe this is female, too.


So again, I'm not looking at just my experience. I need a release. I don't like working out. I don't like running. But if you put a ball in front of me, I'll run for hours in the hot sun and 90 something degree weather. No problem. But if I don't get that for me, the burnout wasn't as much energy as it was, maybe coming in a hole and lashing out and releasing, like, why this? Why that I'm working so hard? Look at me. I'm doing this. Why are you not doing your part?


And then you sometimes find yourself if you're a parent and you're like, if you look at the dude you're talking to, a four year old or six year old, you know, come on, man. Even kids are twelve and 14 now. There's still certain things like, and my wife has such a great perspective of Wade, they're at their stage, let them enjoy where they're at, and there's no need to put more pressure on them. Yes, keep them perspective. We don't need every single new gadget to be happy.


And yet at the same time, and that expectation you mentioned being harder on ourselves. And I think most entrepreneur. So if you listen, those chances are you're an entrepreneur or aspired to be an entrepreneur. In addition, the fact that we're hard on ourselves, the market is not so gentle either. You can be gentle with yourselves and the market can kick your butt. How have you found you mentioned a little bit about self love to a lot of people that sounds either hippyish or new age or whatever.


What did that look like for you? And so for those guys who likes baseball, drinks beer, eat hot dogs, or maybe used to, maybe. I don't know your dietary thing today, but not as much what you say?


Not as much.


Not as much. What would self love look like to you? And how did that shift for you?


Pc, when people hear self care self love, they think yoga, meditation, moments of Zen. And yes, those are components of it. But my definition of it is things you love to do in life. And I commend you for going back to volleyball because parents, all new parents and even parents have been parents for a long time. I think that they have to sacrifice things from their life in order to give their kids a better life. And I completely get that. I understand that we hear that all the time.


I could even call it programming, maybe. But for every parent out there, your children deserve a happy parent. And for you to be happy, you should be able to do things in life you enjoy doing. Don't put them off, because if you wait and you have several kids and it might be a 25 to 30 year type of window, all of a sudden, you start having kids in your 20s or 30s. And finally, the last one moves out. Now you're in your 50s or 60s. Unless you've been kind of keeping PC and doing things all along, you're like, Well, I haven't played volleyball in 25 years.


It's going to feel that way when you get out there in the sand because you're going to be like, Wait a minute. Now, this is working. My brain is saying, do this body is going, who this? I don't know. What are you asking me to do? We don't do this anymore. So self care is doing things in life you enjoy. And they can be as simple as nature trail walks or volleyball or riding your bike or running or going on a nature trails or shopping or having coffee with your best friend, going out to the pub, watching sporting events, golfing, reading, writing, watching television, anything that you like doing when you think about it, just like, give her things you like doing you mentioned.


I think about those. How do they make you feel? They typically should make you feel good. And often a little side note here for all of us that, like, the multi task is most of the things that we enjoy in life to do are very singular in nature. You can't play volleyball and play on your iphone while you're trying to get ready to hit the ball because you're going to be doing this things, you know, it's going to hit you in the head. It's going to it's hit.


And and the rest of your team is going to be like, what are you doing? So that's one of the beautiful things about a lot of the things that I see people, because I have an exercise that I call it the bucket list, which is basically have people list out all those things that I mentioned that they enjoy in life and they love doing. And on the right side of each of those items, I have them write down the last time they did those things. Whenever I do that in a conference or an event or in front of a team.


I hear moans and groans because people realize I'm not doing things in life I enjoy doing. And of course, I'll ask them why. And they'll say I don't have time, and they better not have an iphone. When they say that to me, and I say, okay, let's take your iphone. Let's go into screen time for a moment, shall we? What are you averaging? Six and a half hours a day? Okay. Do you think you could carve out a half an hour to go have coffee with your best friend?


Just 30 minutes. Yeah. Okay. Let's do it and start doing those things and scheduling those things. So when people think about self love or self care, that's what it is is doing things for you. And I know, especially if you're a giving person, you have a lot of empathy. You want to help others. You want to be the best parent, the best spouse, all of those things. Great. But how you can do that is be the best version of you. Take care of you first. When you do that, like your wife said, you're less angry and irritable.


And that is another sign of somebody that is burning out is if they're angry, irritable, barking at the television because this candidate said this or this one said that or this or that. When you realize you're always angry and irritable, that is a normal, really big red flag. Now, there are some people in life that are just naturally grumpy, and you can run all the health tests on them and their healthy specimen. They're fine. They'll live late into their life. They're just curmudgeons in life. So be it.


That's great. Most of us, however, don't tend to fall in that camp, and we tend to be more even keeled and happy go lucky, or at least pleasant. But when we turn, we start getting more irritable about things again is a big sign, a burnout, and it leads into making sure you take care of yourself, eating better, sleeping, doing things in life you enjoy. There's plenty of time to do things, and work will fill up your calendar without keeping in check. If you want to do a four day work week, then you have to be really, really good about understanding how you work, what needs to be done, how long it needs to be done, and also keeping those interruptions and checks.


You can focus in deep work on those things. Call Newport wrote that book. Deep Work is a great book, but just focus on those things because then you get things done. And for us, entrepreneurs and successful people and the type of personalities that are driven, they want to make a big impact in the world. It's really easy if we finish something quick to go. Awesome. I got that done. What's next? You need to take some time to not do anything. And I know for a lot of us, that is a really hard thing to learn, to not do anything and just stare at all.


But the reason you want to do that is it gives you time to reflect. It gives you time to look at how did that work? Why did I get that done faster than normal? Is there anything that I learned from that that I could apply to other things that I'm doing that can help me be more effective or efficient or more aware. There's all kinds of different things you can look at, but as with anything, you want to constantly improve and learn. And also but that takes time to do that.


And it also takes the time of you not doing anything because it's very difficult for you to be doing something and then trying to learn something new at the same time, your brain, while it has a split in it, it doesn't work that way. So that causes undue stress and prolonged stress turns into burnout. So it's one of those things where the self love and the self care is critical, and it doesn't need to involve yoga, meditation. If that works for you, by all means, go for it.


Do it. But just doing those things in life that you enjoy doing will make you happier. And you'll enjoy things. And you won't get as irritated about the other things in life that there's no shortage of things to get irritated about. But you want to approach it in a different mindset, because then that way you won't be stressed. Yeah.


I think of two things. One, there's an idea I forget. I take a quote I can't remember exactly. I always had it. But there was a book, a mini book. It's probably about literally 45 pages. It's like a three by five book by a gentleman by the name of Stuart Wilde. And it's called Life Was Never Meant a Bigger Struggle. And he talks about the difference between effort and struggle. He says efforts natural. This thing about a Tiger Tiger, if it's going to stock its prey, has to exert effort to attack the PC and kill the prideat.


But for the rest of the day, it doesn't sit there like, oh, gosh, am I good? Tiger? Do the other Tigers love me? Doesn't sit there doing that whole thing. Or can I do this? Can I don't know if I can do this. I'm not sure. All those things, those doubts that I need to be good enough. Tiger. I need to kill ten things as all these other things that we have. And I even think of, for example, I've never met a turtle that has two shells.


Why would you need two shells? Need one shell? You're good. And the other thing I think of is, and that means basically, that just aligns to what's natural. It's not natural to. And again, there's nothing wrong. But I've read of different people. Remember what in Tim Ferris is book The Four Hour Work Week. He talks about how so many of his friends one of his friends he mentioned that has multiple houses. He says it's a pain in the butt. I have all these houses, and I'm working hard so that my staff can live there nine to ten months out of the year, and I barely live there.


And so the sense that more is better, I think, is an interesting one. And then I think of one of the things I learned from Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach. And he just talked about something very simple when it comes to having time off. And he has this concept of free days and focus days and buffer days days when you get to do certain things. And when he talked about how most entrepreneurs think that they have to earn time off, like, if I do something good, then I deserve a day off.


And he said, when you flip that and realize that no, you take a day off, not even because you deserve it. So forget even all the self esteem, I'm okay, you're okay. But you take it because that's what you need to actually perform really well in the other day. So even if you take the judgment out of it, the self criticism out of it, you're not going to be able to do that. If you don't get the rest, you can't perform. And again, the analogy I always use is think about athletes in the physical domain.


We know that if somebody is injured and the big games coming up, we don't tell them to practice the next five days. We tell them that to rest. We know that when somewhere in our mind we've told ourselves that our brains don't need rest, they can just go on and on us as if any other muscle we know needs a break. We know if somebody had a lot of emotional things go on. They've lost a lot of people. And we talk about their heart. We don't know if emotions truly reside there, but we say, oh, wow, they've had a lot go on.


They're emotionally tired. And yet somehow we think that a five hour energy drink or something and not to knock their brand, but or any drink of that nature or caffeine or Coke or whatever is going to reset the brain. It might might fool the brain into being in a hyper vigilant state, but as far as the rest and that cycle of resting in the brain, getting the time to take a break, that just doesn't happen. What would you say? You find that people find you mentioned sleep.


And I know whenever I'm getting better sleep, like right now, just even because of what's going on with Covin, I'm extra sense. I'm allowing myself that extra sleep. Sometimes I'm sleeping an hour or two more than I normally do. I've been doing a little bit of coaching with my kids teams at the why I wear my mask and whatnot, but I'm in the sense of saying okay, whereas normally I'd say, okay, wait, five, and let's get up. I'm actually going the other direction, saying, you know what?


Not too short. It's going on with this cover thing. I'm not a doctor, I don't know, and a lot of doctors still don't know. So I'm airing on the side of more sleep, and I can say that particular decision has never really faltered me. I mean, assuming I make my appointments and whatnot, but how does the person identify that? And then how do you tie that into the thing that if you allow yourself that time, something else you mentioned is to then not over schedule your future, because sometimes we think the future seems so everything.


We'll get to everything tomorrow so we can fill up our whole thing. And yet today we realize, oh, I can't get everything today. I can only get about two three things done today, but tomorrow I get ten things planned because somehow magically tomorrow's going to happen. How do you help people with that kind of thinking? Not only in honoring the difference between struggling versus working and balancing that, but also realistic expectations about what can be done without, let's say, going soft and wait. I don't want to be soft.


I want to make sure I don't lose my edge, but I don't want to be on edge.


I think a couple of things. One, I always encourage people to have their must do tasks there to do list and not have more than two or three things on that for the day they can have a secondary list of this is the CBS receipt length of things that I need to do. But I'm going to just do two or three things a day and do a hard stop on that, because again, it gives you that time for reflection and the stuff that Dan Sullivan talks about and design your days for me.


I'll pull back the curtain a little bit as far as how I spend my weeks Monday, because I do a lot of public speaking. So Mondays tends to be a research day on events and looking anywhere from six months to a year, maybe two years out on different events and talking with event planners. And whatnot Tuesdays tend to be intro calls or follow up calls, PC, or if I'm a guest on a show, for example, those are days. Wednesdays are the day that I do my podcast show.


Typically, if I have to waiver a day, I've got elbow room because I have elbow room and my schedule to do it. But Wednesdays tend to be the day for that. Thursdays and Fridays I don't schedule, so I know this is the four day work week. I've mentioned three days, like, wait a minute, three. How in the world are you doing? Three? Well, I'm not, but I leave Thursdays and Fridays unscheduled that way. If something comes up on Monday, Tuesday that needs to be addressed this week, then I can slot it in.


I tend to aim it for Thursdays to keep Friday that. But if for some reason Friday ends up being then I go, okay, let's look at Thursday. Make sure Thursday isn't overloaded, because that would bleed over into time. Sometimes it's going to happen. We're not perfect. But if you can do that, then you block it in that way. Then you have those days for creativity doesn't mean I'm not working. It means I'm being creative. I'm thinking about different things. Okay, do I want to do this?


What are some new initiatives based on conversations I've had that I can do or new partnerships or collaborations or a lot of different things that are going on in my world. So you look at those things. All right. How does that look? How would that fit into things? And I think we talked about in the pre show. My prep is like, okay, I want to do this. And this. I'm like, it's the opposite. When people have a PR person, they're like, oh yeah, put me out there.


I want to be everywhere and all that. I'm like, I don't want to be everywhere because I don't have the capacity. Now I know other people in the industry, a lot of people that do similar things to me are different or can collaborate and whatnot. But for me, I'm like, oh, no, that's turning on both faucets and both sprayers on the shower and you get host really quick because you don't want it's like trickle please within things and plan it out. I can say, alright, well, we're going to do a campaign and we're going to do the campaign and two or three months out.


Plan it, get it there then. That way, I know when I'm scheduling things don't go crazy booking things in April because that's when the PC person is getting you on all the media stations. And when they say show up at 07:45 a.m. On the morning show us in San Diego, you better be there so you can't log like another conflict. No, no, if you're getting on media time, they control the schedule. But you have to have that elbow room in there. And we as entrepreneurs, love filling up spots.


We see a blank spot. I could do that. Blank spots are good. And when I have cancellations, I don't celebrate and go, yeah, I go, alright, well, that is a block of time that I've just found. I'm not going to fill it up with anything other than a calendar block on there. And they'll say block off. That's the only thing I do. And one of the things I do with my calendar as well as color coded. A good friend of mine, Virginia, taught me this years ago.


She said on your calendar, it doesn't matter if it's paper or electronic color code things. So, you know, you can glance at and say, okay, I've got podcast interviews, so I know what color I used for podcast interviews. But for your self care time or your meantime color, that your favorite color. And the reason why you do that is you can look ahead in your calendar and say, okay, I'm not seeing a lot of my favorite color that's problem. And you can also look back in the last couple of weeks or even the last month.


Okay. Do I see enough of my favorite color? If you don't, then you need to adjust because you're not imbalance of your self care time and your work time because work. And you know, this has no problem finding time on your calendar. Not at all. It will. It sticks to it like a magnet that goes right there. Now, health care is something that we try to squeeze in between things. You won't do them, you won't do them because you're trying to squeeze them in between things.


Those things you're trying to squeeze will expand. Work will take longer than you think, or an impromptu meeting will pop up. So I always recommend people schedule your self care times, hopefully consistently, at least through the week. Don't cancel them. Treat them as if they're the most important meeting you've ever had with your boss, because the boss of your life. So and you got to do that because you start canceling those things. Then all of a sudden, that's when the stress starts building up because you're not taking time off.


And then the stress does this. And then Congratulations. Welcome to can't burn out. The thumbs are over in the corner there. So that's big tips. Just get control of your schedule and really become Crystal clear on how it works for you because everybody's calendar is different. And some people may say, I don't ever want to work on Monday ever again in my life as an entrepreneur. Okay, great. Well, the block that off and do the other days, whatever makes sense for you. Everybody's got different energy levels and things that they can do.


Figure what those things are and figure out when you feel like you're in the flow, when you're working on certain tasks. And if you see a pattern like, okay, for some reason, Tuesday afternoons, I'm really good at this. Will then block off your Tuesday afternoons and do those things. It'll just make life so much easier for you. Yeah.


Thank you. Just tell me the couple of things. I actually delete my calendar stuff when I'm done with them. But now I'm thinking leaving it there because I do the color coding thing. I use the Google calendar, and I actually have my favorite work colored in green. But I might shift that because I like that idea of making sure the time is there. And this whole idea, you and I talked about this, the idea of scheduling your life first. I tell people, put fun before work. Not the work can't be fun, but make sure that happens.


And I just I look at this idea of creating the life you want to create, and it just reminds me of Gosh Stephen Covey's book The First Things First, which was sort of a spin off of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And that idea that the whole urgent and important grid. And the idea that the things that are most important, the things like spending time with your kids, your spouse, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your family meditating, taking a walk in the Woods, doing stuff you love, whatever it is, those things, they are important, but they're almost never urgent.


And I think that's actually perhaps maybe get a little metaphysical, maybe that's true. The important things, maybe they're not urgent, but they need to get done on a regular basis. And yet the things that are screaming for your attention, it's almost like, yeah, it almost seems like they're screaming, like, as if they're life or death, and as we know they're not. But when we react to them that way, then the whole fight or flight response and all those different things for the legal and just this whole hypervigilant state happens.


What would be your sort of big picture if someone said, okay, look, you have, I don't know, 30 seconds, 60 seconds a minute to talk with somebody that you feel maybe they're not. They're not managing their life as they could be. What questions would you ask them? Or is that sort of that intervention? Because I'm thinking right now, if you're talking to the audience, and my guess is there's people, especially if somebody different people stick with different episode, you listen all the way through and some Tags, somebody.


If you're still listening this episode, my guess is this is something that's relevant for you. So, Michael, if that person was in front of you and they're listening because they're wondering, Gosh, am I burning out? What questions would you suggest that they ask themselves to sort of in some way self diagnosed or get the process started? If they need to perhaps do something about that?


I think a couple of things, one check on their sleep, how are they sleeping? And I'm a big fan of journaling, and I recommend people do that. You can use electric ones. I've got actually tech savvy. I got all kinds of technology and all of that kind of stuff, tablets and laptops and smartphones and all that good stuff. But for my Journal, I actually have a paper and pen type of Journal, and I jot things down. I I go back and reflect on them not only periodically, but at the end of every year.


I look back at the last year of Journal notes and see how my life has progressed. And it's amazing what you forgot. And then you look back and like, oh, yeah, I remember that period, but asking me how to to ask themselves, how are they sleeping, what sleep like? Secondly, tying into that, talking to them about what things I like doing are some of the fun things I get to do. And I like doing okay. When was the last time you did those things? And if it's been a long time, that's definitely a warning sign.


And I know a lot of people say, well, I'm working so many hours and the lock down and all of that, and I get it. I completely understand there's a lot of things that I enjoy doing that have been difficult or impossible to do during the pandemic. But there's still a ton of things that I can do and Hone in on those things and do a couple of those things every week. Don't say, okay, once a month just to do it every week, because we go in at PC, we go on rhythms.


And if we get on a better rhythm of life, feeling better for resting, which is important because we repair the damage we do are still on a daily basis. And we do a few things in life that are fun to get us away from the work side of things. Those are two big things to help kind of get the stress and the burnout reduced. And then, of course, if there more committed into it, figure out the nutrition side of things and the activity side of things.


Because all of those things work together. We're one big, complex being, and there's a lot of things going on, and the food that we eat and the information we consume is fuel. It can either be really good fuel or it can be garbage. And if we consume garbage, well, what are we going to feel like? We're going to feel like garbage? And I'm not telling people to not eat at fast food restaurants or anymore or anything like that. But figure out what foods are going good for you.


Make sure you're eating a good, healthy diet for you. And once you do that, you'll feel better. And then when you feel better, that allows your body that is fighting stress all day long to be able to divert its attention from dealing with all the bad toxin foods that you're eating, to focusing on that energy to make you look at a situation maybe a little less stressful than you are now. And then again, that just has this evolving effect that can keep you feeling better. But again, doing the 32nd type of thing, just how sleep life.


Here are some things you like doing in life, and if you're not doing if you're not sleeping well, you're not doing things you enjoy doing. That's a very slippery slope that you're going down.


Awesome. Thank you. You just mentioned something I forgot is when you look at nutrition and that's our physical dimension usually very tied to how we feel. And people say, okay, look at what you're eating and notice how you feel after. And as some Wade, the background in psychology, you tell people, look at the relationships you are emotionally. How do you feel after you connect with those people? Because those things maybe not so good. And I think the other thing that a lot of us are learning is also, look at the information you're putting in your head again.


I happen to believe, and I'll go a little bit even dabble to be stupid enough to go into the political arena. I think the middle 60 of us are okay with what's going on in the world, and we understand perspective. And there's an extreme of somewhere between ten PC on both sides, and there might be multiple sides that are really stirring up a lot. And those get clicks, which that's how you and I, both of them. That's how the web world works. Clicks. The story that says that Michael spent time with his friends today or Wade spend time coaching his kid at the Y that doesn't make the news, and that's what's happening a lot of the times in so many parts of the world.


What makes the news is the outlandish, sometimes crazy, sometimes stuff that stir this up without. I don't think either side has got it fully right, because the idea that talk about America, the idea that of my fellow citizens or idiots or stupid to me is borders on a little arrogant, as if they have nothing good to offer, but just simply looking at how do you feel after do you feel energized after listening to this show, we used to call those editorials. Now a lot of them are being called news stations, and I think for a lot of people I've watched and a lot of people talked about this, the burnout, the wear on the relationships that come from that.


So thank you so much for your shared. Where can people find out more about your work and connect with what you're up to?


Best way to find me is go to Breakfast Leadership Com. There's all types of resources on my Tools and Resources page that are free. They can go in, they just send her their name email and be able to get all of that. My email address is Michael at Breakfast Leadership Com. Happy to have a conversation with you on most of the social media channels as well. The letter B then fast Leadership. Don't put that on a license plate, and that's a good way to find me as well.




Yeah. We'll put all the links and more of the extended bio in the notes. Thanks again for joining us. February listing. Really hope you're taking care of yourself. I hope as entrepreneurs, you're not using this unique time right now is a time to just say, okay, I've got to just focus and do stuff. It's great to say you're accomplishing things. But as Michael said, make sure you're getting your sleep. Make sure you're doing the things you love spending time with the people you love. If you're not doing that kind of what we're all doing this for.


So as always, I look forward to helping you impact more people and make more money and less time doing you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends in your life. Thanks for listening.


Michael LevittProfile Photo

Michael Levitt

Chief Burnout Officer-Founder of Breakfast Leadership Network-Speaker (Certified Virtual and In-Person) Corporate Trainer

Michael Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout media firm.
He is an in-person and Certified Virtual Speaker, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, bestselling author, and hosts the Breakfast Leadership Show, a top 200 podcast on iTunes.
Michael's A Top 20 Global Thought Leader on HR & Culture with Thinkers360 and a former Healthcare executive, overseeing $ 2 Billion budgets.
Michael accomplishes all of this, while working a schedule of 4 days per week.