Archive 7 min read

Balance & Burnout

It's all too easy to burnout in IT in general...more so in security. Why? What's the cost?

Balance & Burnout

Watch this episode on YouTube.

Reasonably Accurate 馃馃 Transcript

Good morning everybody. How are you doing today? For those of you who are watching the video stream here, you see that there's a little bit of a different look. I'm outside. I've got a beautiful green background. Um, you know, you can probably hear a little bit of the birds and hopefully not so much of the construction, a little bit of chaos going on here.

Um They're laying fiber in the neighborhood, which is fantastic but a little distance. So I've been off the air the last couple of days on Tuesday. I was live tweeting the Aws NYC summit and throughout the day, I was, I was firing up some tweets and then on Wednesday, um I didn't broadcast because I was in transit which was unexpected.

And, um, a friend of mine had actually pointed out like, hey, you should have done one from the road either from the cab or from the airport or whatever the case may be and they were absolutely right. But I was a wreck and that's what I want to talk to you about today.

Not me being a wreck, but about balance in general. And I think, um, security the security community has a real challenge around balance, um, around mental health and it's somewhat understandable, but it also is not, um, it's a tricky subject and I think it's one that we don't talk about often, um, you know, mental health in general, um, work life balance.

Um, these are difficult things, especially, um, when you're just starting out. Um, and you don't have seniority and you feel like you need to adhere to, um, a certain idea of what work looks like. Um, as well as, um, you know, other people's ideas that they're pushing on top of you.

And I know that sounds kind of weird. Um But a lot of the time, it's like, no, there's so much work that needs to be done. You need to be doing 12 or 14 hour days. Um, that works for a little while. But after a certain amount of time you start to burn out and you need balance, you need to figure out what you do to relax how you enjoy, um, self care, um, dealing with your family if you have one, you know, nurturing those relationships, um, with a partner with your friends, all this stuff is super, super important and I think it's really easy to lose perspective on it.

Um And I don't think that's what happened this week for me. It was simply the matter of, um, I had my radio column on Monday morning, so I was up, well, before the crack of dawn to get down to the studio to do that, countered with a late basketball game.

Despite my aging years, I am still playing in, uh basically a beer league here in town, um, with people very, very much younger than I. And it is a stark weekly reminder of how much I am not paying attention to, uh caring for my own self.

Um making sure that I am in better shape and eating better and, and, and consistently exercising. Um though I do get out each week and at least, you know, plod down and up and down the court trying to make a contribution and it's a fun social action.

But early morning broadcast, late night game flipped around with an early morning flight and New York was supposed to be in and out. I was supposed to be back in time to leave the babysitter to let my partner go to hockey but did not happen. Um Because the weather interesting thing, uh If you're at the summit, you probably saw the announcements where they're like, oh, the front entrance is closed and the side entrance is closed and the roof is kind of closed because there's too much rain.

Um shut down all the flights going back uh north up to Canada. So I ended up spending the night in New York, um which is no big deal except I wasn't at all prepared for it. So, um quick trip to the drugstore booked a hotel. Um On the bright side, I got to have dinner with a bunch of other community heroes, um which is a really engaging and reinvigorating conversation.

But of course, the next morning I was a little bit uh uh under the weather, I say let's just um wrecked. It wasn't, uh you know, uh it was just a couple of days, long days. Um not feeling uh fantastic sleeping in a hotel room unexpectedly.

Um, had to rearrange a bunch of schedule stuff, just kind of, you know. Um, and so I didn't do a broadcast but that leads to today's broadcast, which is talking about that subject. Um, because, well, that's a minor scheduling glitch all too often. I run across folks and friends who are just burning the candle at both ends.

They are just running nonstop. They are working long hours in an office. They're not taking enough down time and it's sort of around this illusion of, well, I'll take a big vacation at some point and while big vacations are great, I've got a couple, you know, week plus planned myself later this summer, but you need to take little days here and there.

You need to counterbalance of like, hey, I was on a trip the last two days, so I'm only going to make sure I just kind of check my email a little bit and keep some things moving today, but I'm not going to dive in and you know, do a full eight hours or something like that.

You need to be able to have that self awareness of understanding how you recharge and to understand that you are not at full strength and you need to recharge. And I think it's something I struggle with all the time. But I feel I'm 10 times better than I was five years ago, 100 times better at it than I was at the start of my career.

And of course, I was a much younger man then. So it wasn't nearly as critical. But if I look back and realize if I had started teaching myself, um, habits, the right habits to figure out that, like, hey, I've been pushing really, really hard. I need to pull back a little bit.

Um, and I need, you know, to take an extra day here or an afternoon here. Um, or just, you know, sit down and read a book for half an hour to take a little mini break. It doesn't have to be anything massive. If I had started to teach myself those habits much earlier in my career, I think I would be much better off.

And I think in the community in general, we see extreme examples of this. Um We see a lot of, um, subtle examples that we don't necessarily call out. And it's not, I'm not saying it's your responsibility to call out someone you see, and you're like, hey, you really should do about it.

But I think in the community, we need to be more aware of the fact that we are in high stress jobs, we are in jobs where there's a lot of pressure where there's a lot of in tech in general, there is a lot of this conception of like you need to be working hard all the time.

You need to be just crushing it nonstop. And I think it's, it's responsible. It's incumbent on us to turn around and say, like it's ok to take some self time, it's ok to take some down time and to just say, hey, wait a minute, I need an afternoon to sit outside, enjoy the birds, maybe a beverage.

Um and just, you know, read a book or have a great dinner with friends that's really reinvigorating or go for a run, um or all of those things. Um I think that is absolutely critical because for me, um I've really seen this over the last, let's say, five or six years of my career.

When I do that, I end up doing much better work. My work quality increases significantly and I get more done in less time when I'm better balanced. And I think that's a really hard thing for people to grasp with, to grasp with because you sit there and go well, no, I need to put eight hours into this paper for it to be better.

But if seven of those hours. Are you basically getting frustrated and pounding your head on the keyboard? That's not a good use of your time. Step away, recharge, refresh, get a new perspective. Sit down in that one hour. You're going to just pump out gold. That is a huge, huge up.

But it takes a really long time to get there. And I don't feel I'm there. I feel I'm still struggling with this all the time, but I'm trying to put the support structure in place with friends with family in order to help me make those choices easier so that I am more refreshed and that I am able to deal with the kind of two long days in a row and I have to stay overnight unexpectedly much better.

And that is work in progress, like everything to do with balance with mental health, with self care. It's always a continuous practice, it's always a continuous work in progress. Um But you know, it's something that we need to be talking about, we need to get out there and we need to recognize that it is an issue and it will lead to better results if we pay attention to it.

What do you think? Hit me up online here, marknca in any community down below in the comments or by email. Um How do you deal with, how do you find balance? How do you tackle any mental health issues? Um burnout.

What are your tips and tricks? Um Have you struggled with it? Have you found push back from the teams you're working with? Love to keep this conversation going as always. I hope you are set up for a fantastic day. Hopefully one that might be outside and enjoying some beautiful weather.

Wherever you are, I will talk to you online and see you on the show tomorrow.

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