Burnout is a choice Craig Johns

Burnout Is A Choice

BURNOUT IS A CHOICE – Whose Responsibility Is IT?

Burnout is a choice. It is often misdiagnosed, usually by self. It’s become somewhat of a trend word that captures any feeling of tiredness, exhaustion or fatigue. In some cases it’s even used as a label to help people feel like they have a sense of belonging or take a day off work.

Evidence from the World Health organisation, Gallup, American Medical Association and many more reputable organisations have completed research that is showing there is a real issue with Burnout in our society. The numbers vary across research, however they are compelling enough that we do need to place a large microscope and our full attention on Burnout.

People need to realise that Burnout is totally avoidable if we take a proactive approach to life. It’s now time for employers to stop placing the responsibility on the employee and employees need to stop blaming the employer. Burnout is a choice and is totally preventable.

What is burnout? Photo Credit - Devin Avery (Unsplash)
Photo Credit – Devin Avery (Unsplash)

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s both an individual and a company issue, not one or the other.

“Have you ever over done it, in your life … for all the right reasons?”

Burnout is a choice. We decide whether to work longer hours, at a faster pace, not take a break, remain in a toxic environment or with a manager who micromanages us. People choose whether to stay in relationships, start a family, take on too many activities, train too hard when tired, watch too much Netflix or scroll on social media. It’s our choice to decide what we eat, how often we exercise, and whether to let our brain relax and allow our body to rest and recover. 

“If you haven’t come to the realisation yet, no human can do it all.”

Workplace burnout is often misdiagnosed when people might just be exhausted, tired or stressed. According to the World Health Organisation’s definition of Workplace Burnout, there are 3 dimensions required to for diagnosis:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  3. Reduced professional efficacy

There are many possible reasons why people can find themselves diagnosed with Workplace Burnout or a company creates an environment which leads to a higher percentage of people achieving Burnout. In every situation it comes down to choices.

Craig Johns Burnout Is A Choice - New Parent Working From Home

New Parent Working From Home

Two weeks ago I found myself living on 10% of what I am capable of.

Ten months of being a first time parent, disrupted sleep patterns and co-owning and leading a global start-up that has seen accelerated growth. Take into consideration working from home and working away from home, owning a home with the pressures of inflation on finances and more.

Struggling to focus and find the energy to do anything I had noticed myself becoming cynical, having negative thoughts, being highly critical and focusing on the obstacle rather than the opportunities. Now, I am not the only one in this type of situation.

I had been observing these changes happen throughout the year. Hoping that I would get through the tiredness, the brain fog and negativity. Sometimes even though we are aware of something, it doesn’t mean we always take action.

It took two of my closest friends and colleagues to ask the question, “how are you doing?”. The conversation that took place with both of them and recommendations they shared, gave me the realisation that I needed to take control and make a decision. Why, because Burnout is a choice.

Craig Johns Burnout Is A Choice Keynote Speaker

Making A Different Choice

This week I have made a choice. A choice to spend 5 days at a friend’s house in Melbourne to have long and uninterrupted sleep, relax, live a lot healthier, read a book and free my mind. It is definitely not enough to bring me back to 100%. What it will do is bring me back to operating at 60% or more which will get me through till Christmas where I will have extended time off to get back to 100% for 2024.

Having a high achievement mindset, very large drive and the determination to take something to the next level, you sometimes push the boundaries too far. The problem with fatigue is that it’s really very hard to detect over a period of time.

As an athlete you have a strong trigger to let you know when you have got rest and recovery wrong. You aren’t as fast, strength reduces, you react slower and make mistakes. It’s mainly physical and you notice it.

In the corporate world, unless you have a physical job or you face a catastrophic event, it’s a mental fatigue. Your mental fatigue reduces so slowly that your body daps to it and you don’t know what’s happening until too late. Your body thrives on small doses of stress and until you remove it, your body thinks everything is ok. Have you ever fallen sick when you go on holiday?

“I have learnt the hard way … energy is like money … if you keep spending it rather than investing … you will end up with an out of control debt! … How are you investing your energy!”

Energy Management Craig Johns Burnout Is A Choice

Proactive Energy Management Prevents Burnout

We must proactively plan and manage our energy and stress over time, to enhance the performance and productivity of ourselves, our company, and our relationships. It starts with learning how to schedule, focus and invest in your energy.

  1. Schedule Your Energy – Schedule your recovery and energy before meetings to ensure you have sustainable energy and performance. Plan your day, week, month, year and career with a 3:1 work to recovery ratio. Schedule only 20% of your work time in meetings. 
  2. Focus Your Energy – Determine what are your priorities every day, ensure you are grounded and present, and decide where you focus your and other people’s attention
  3. Invest In Your Energy – Create boundaries, remove contamination, develop routines and remove 3 things every time you add something new into your day or life. 

It’s Everyone’s Responsibility

Burnout is a choice. Both for the individual but also the company. It is the responsibility of both to be proactive in preventing burnout from occurring. As a company how can you schedule, focus and invest in the energy of your employees? As an individual what choices will you make to avoid burnout in your life? Burnout is a choice. Schedule, focus and invest in your energy.

Craig Johns High Performance Leadership Expert

Craig is a 10x National Champion, International coach and CEO turned high performance leadership expert, international speaker and and Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast host.

He is the CEO & Managing Partner of Speakers Institute Corporate, a high performance leadership expert, and a leadership, high performance and workplace culture keynote speaker.

Learn more about how Craig is working with a diverse team of exceptional human beings to inspire great leaders at www.speakersinstitutecorporate.com.

Book Craig as a Keynote Speaker and learn how to become a high performing leader by going to www.craigjohns.com.au for more on the Gravity of Leadership, LIONSHEART Mindset, Break The CEO Code and Atomic Pressure.

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Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless

By Craig Johns

Have you ever wondered what allows someone to achieve high levels of success? 

Whether in sport, business, leadership, music, art or many other areas of life, they find a way to achieve extraordinary things. They may be extremely gifted, but quite often they aren’t the most talented. 

What separates the best from the rest, the ordinary from the extraordinary?

Successful leadership requires a high performance mindset and approach. 

Being relentless in your pursuit of performance is important if you want to succeed, however you need to be relentless without being ruthless and reckless if you want to leave a profound legacy without the train wreck that follows so many successful people.

Before you dive in further, let’s first understand what relentless, ruthless and reckless mean in the context of leadership and high performance.  

RELENTLESS – non-stop commitment

Someone who is relentless is determined to do something and refuses to give up. They will continue to pursue a goal, continually overcoming obstacles and creating new paths when one is leading in the wrong direction. 

It doesn’t mean they will necessarily be full speed ahead 24/7, although as you see below they can be. They will be fixated on an outcome and for some they will do whatever they can at all costs. 

RUTHLESS – taking no prisoners

A ruthless person will do or pursue something no matter the costs to other people or themselves. They are mean, show no mercy and don’t care about a person’s, others or theirs, feelings or emotions.  

Ruthless people lack compassion, are considered very harsh or cruel, will do anything that is necessary to achieve what they want and are determined to succeed without caring about others.

RECKLESS – careless of consequences

Taking a reckless approach means a person doesn’t care about getting bad results or the negative consequences that occur as a result or your actions. They disregard danger and the effect their behaviour will have on other people.

Warning signs don’t enter the memory sphere and are considered wasted space. The risks involved aren’t either considered or are disregarded for a bigger result. 

Relentless Without Being Ruthless or Reckless 3 R's Craig Johns

When All 3 R’s Collide

It is likely that you have seen people act in a relentless, ruthless or reckless way. You may have seen people act in a combination of two or all three of them and in most cases the trail of destruction isn’t pretty. 

If we are all being honest with ourselves, a majority, if not all, of us have been in situations where we have experienced modes of each one and combinations of the three. I know I have and the times where all 3 aligned are not some of my favourite memories.

“When I was 14 years old I broke my arm while playing touch rugby at school. My relentless approach to winning and in field hockey helping my team win meant I would continue playing with an arm in a cast. We were winning by 5 goals and on my relentless approach to continue adding to my 47 consecutive successful penalty stroke conversions, I shifted into a ruthless and reckless mode of disregarding the thoughts of my teammates by deciding to take a penalty stroke with the broken arm. Joe was a highly accomplished penalty stroke taker and great co-leader, but my ego kicked in and I had to take it. I ended up missing the goal and breaking my unbeaten successful attempts.

Craig Johns
Relentless Pursuit of Athletic Dominance Craig Johns

Relentless Pursuit of Athletic Dominance

Michael Jordan is regarded as one of the all time best athletes the planet has seen. His pursuit of excellence is second to none. Relentless in every approach to being the best basketball player the planet has ever seen. Ruthless in his addiction to bringing the best out of his teammates for the collective goal of winning, but at times reckless in regards to the long-term mental and physical toll inflicted on them. 

If we look at the 3 greatest male tennis players of recent times, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, they all excel in their relentless pursuit of excellence. 

Djokovic has a massive team and will leave no stone unturned in finding that extra 0.001% of performance, however his ruthless approach to getting what he wants is well publicised and even more his reckless disregard of the consequences of his actions was for all of the world to see as he his visa was cancelled on trying to enter the 2022 Australian Open. 

Nadal is relentless in his preparation and routine to achieve the performance state that it takes to win global majors. His ruthless attention to his own routines has quite often impacted other people. However, is not likely to show signs of recklessness as he is quite calculated in his approach to winning. 

Federer on the other hand is relentless in ensuring all aspects of his life thrive while understanding the changing needs of his body as he ages. Over the past decade he has shown a relentless approach to finding a way to win or stay in the game. The ruthless and reckless aspects of his personality from his younger days have disappeared. 

Business Is Not Bigger Than the People. Relentless without being ruthless or reckless

Business Is Not Bigger Than the People

Shifting into the business world, let’s compare 3 highly successful business leaders Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Indra Nooyi. 

Musk is noted for his relentless pursuit of new innovations. He is known for his long work hours and ruthless approach to the working environment. The collateral damage in his reckless disregard of his personal life has led to his 3rd marriage and his children don’t speak to him. Also known for his unorthodox or unscientific stances and controversial public statements. At what cost has success been for Musk?

Facebook changed the shape of our lives and how we view it. In Zuckerberg’s relentless pursuit of socially connecting the world, the negative consequences have resulted in a reckless disregard to the mental health of humanity. He was ruthless in crushing the competition, acquiring rival companies and copying innovative features with a single-minded purpose of being the best and most dominant social media conglomerate. 

Nooyi is one of the pioneers of the new leadership. Her relentless approach to being human centric and changing the way the Pepsico was perceived is admired by many people around the world. She has done it in a compassionate and humble way without the need for being ruthless and reckless. 

High performing leaders Relentless without being ruthless or reckless. Craig Johns

High Performing Leaders

The true high performing leader’s relentless pursuit of an outcome or excellence is all about being 100% present and focused when on task, and switching off to recharge and recover in between high energy focused efforts. 

“I learned this the hard way between 2012-2014 when I stepped into my first C-Suite role leading a team of 500 people from 22 nationalities and highly talented people in the sport, health, mind, education and hospitality industries. My relentless approach led to working intensely for 70-80hrs a week over 302 days straight.

Our ruthless approach to demanding excellence, removing people who weren’t up to our high standards and crazy drive to be world leading at everything we did led to recklessly flatlining in hospital. I had let my own inner drive to win become win at all costs and it led to quite a lonely time where I had put work before my people and my health. 

This led to a conversation where I realised I needed to Break The CEO Code and implement the high performance skills I had learnt and excelled at as an athlete and sport coach.

The result is I relentlessly focused on scheduling, focusing and investing in my energy to ensure that I avoided moments of ruthless and reckless behaviour.“

Craig Johns

They are driven to achieve results, make effective decisions and exceed expectations through bringing the best out of themselves and the people they work with. 

To bring their best performance mindset, performance and productivity, they know they need to integrate regular exercise, good nutrition, a calm mind and purposeful recovery into their daily environment.  

They work hard, but more importantly work smart in their relentless pursuit achieving a higher level of individual, team, company and industry performance. Knowing what to focus on, where to place their energy and how to use their talents is a priority to a high performing leader. 

Wellbeing, enjoyment, purpose and inspired people fuel their approach to leading highly successful teams. Work is all about precision, efficiency and detail and never settling for anything less than excellence. The leaders are concerned about providing an environment where people can thrive and not just survive in their role. 

Removing the Unnecessary

To be relentless without being ruthless or reckless requires precision in planning, preparation and people management. Your instinct and how you react has everything to do with your practice. What you practice becomes your performance. 

Take some time to remove the unnecessary risks and actions so you and your team can thrive no matter what the world throws your way.  

It’s time to take a selfless proactive approach to your leadership so you can relentlessly pursue your vision and goals without ruthlessly affecting other people and reckless creating harm. 

Remember a relentless non-stop commitment means you do everything you can be on when you need to be and also off to recharge. Leadership and high performance is not about taking no prisoners and being careless of the consequences.   

Spend some time to reflect on your leadership and pursuit of a vision, goal or excellence. Write down any aspects of ruthless and reckless leadership. Next to this list write down what you could do that wouldn’t have any negative effects on other people or danger to yourself and the company. Now take action to implement these changes while still being relentless.   

Be an Inspiring Great Leader.

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You Cant Stop Rotting Wood


Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash


By Craig Johns

Have you ever felt like the company you are working for is like a ship that has sprung a leak, taking on water and gradually going under?

At first you put a wrong decision, behavior or action down to a mistake or an interesting choice, but after it is replicated many times, it feels like you are on a runaway train with no brakes.

Once a negative culture or behavior becomes ingrained it is like wood in that when rot sets in there is no way to stop its progress.

I have found that a dysfunctional company or team culture starts from the leader or leaders of an organization lacking the necessary skillsets to one, set a positive culture, and two, have the ability to manage the direction of the culture created.

The demise of many teams and companies can be directly related to the environment created by a leader, leadership team or a group of people who are able to use their influencing abilities in a negative manner.

As is often noted in business circles, ‘the fish rots from the head down’, meaning that the when a team or company fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.

BRIAN CHESKY, co-founder and CEO, Airbnb

Deloitte completed a Global Human Capital Trends survey in 2016, which found that 82 percent of respondents believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage as it drives people’s behavior, innovation and customer service. (Kaplan et al. 2016)

Ashworth (2015) noted that, “a company’s culture is the only truly unique identifier. It is like a fingerprint. It may be similar to others, but is uniquely distinct to your business”.

Iannarino (2012) pointed out that, “if leadership doesn’t establish and protect a healthy culture, some unhealthy culture will fill that vacuum… If a pocket of negativity or cynicism exists, it’s because leadership hasn’t cut it out of the organisation – especially when the pocket of negativity comes from the leadership ranks”.

Culture is like the wind. It is invisible; yet its effect can be seen and felt.

BRYAN WALKER, Partner and Managing Director, IDEO

There was this one time when I was working for a start-up company who over-hired during the pre-opening phase due to the ambitious large scale of the operation.

As the company moved into the opening and post-opening phases they had to reduce the size of the team to improve financial and operational efficiency.

The problem was is that the leadership team continued to down-size more than once and the leadership team continually change over a period of three years, which resulted in a lack of trust and the development of an unhealthy culture.

An unhealthy culture then began to spread external to the company into the community, like a plague of locusts, creating negative brand image and consumer distrust that resulted in members leaving.

Today I want to share with you three ways that you can be in more control of your culture and ensure that a positive environment exists in your team or company:

  1. You must live and breath the company identitylead by example, be a positive role model, and show your team members what the right or acceptable behavior is.
  2. Build a relationship and communicate regularly with your team members. Get to know them in both a formal and informal setting, and be curious by asking questions that allow the team members to feel valued and know that their work matters.
  3. Empower team members, inspire them to do their best work and recognize and reward them for positive behaviors that continually strengthen the culture.

It is important that you protect your wood, ensure that it is watered, has adequate nutrients and is protected from the harsh elements.


Ashworth, P. (2015). Why Company Culture is So Important to Business Success. BrightCoach LinkedIn Articlelink

Iannarino, A. (2012). A Fish Rots from the Head Down (A Note to the Sales Leader). Iannarino Company Website. link

Kaplan, M., Dollar, B., Melian, V., Van Durme, Y., Wong, J. (2016). Shape Culture Drive Strategy. Deloitte Insights. link


To learn more about proactively planning your recovery and scheduling your energy, please DOWNLOAD the Break the CEO Code Whitepaper


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Are You Living Link
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Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
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