As leaders in the church, the needs are endless and the stakes are eternal. This can lead many church leaders to throw themselves into their ministries at unhealthy and unsustainable paces. Many ministers burn out. Carey Nieuwhof was one of those ministers.
As the founding and senior pastor of one of Canada’s largest and most influential churches, Carey burned out at age 42. Almost a decade later, Carey is not only recovered from his burnout, but is thriving in life and leadership. Carey is now an influential pastor, speaker, author, blogger, podcaster, and leadership consultant, all while maintaining a healthy pace of life.
In this episode I talk with Carey about what contributed to his burnout, the underlying heart issues that lead to overworking, signs and symptoms to watch out for, how he recovered from his burnout, and how he structures his life to accomplish more with less stress. Enjoy the episode, and please pass it on to anyone you feel might be running at an unhealthy pace.
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Alex Enfiedjian 00:09 Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. My name is Alex Enfiedjian, your host. And if you’re a new listener, thank you so much for tuning in today, we release one new episode per month and I tried to make them as practical, helpful, applicable and encouraging as possible to both your life and your ministry as a worship leader. So take a scroll through the podcast feed and see which topics will be of help to you in the season of your ministry, and click download. And don’t forget to hit subscribe to get new content delivered directly to you each month. Today I have the great privilege of talking to one of my personal favorite podcasters and bloggers Carrie neuhoff. Carrie neuhoff is a podcaster, blogger, Pastor, speaker, author, writer, and obviously a high achieving individual. But at age 42. While running one of Canada’s largest and most influential churches, Kerry burned out he hit the bottom. But the good news is almost a decade later, Carrie is not only recovered from his burnout, but is thriving in his life and leadership. Carrie is now doing 10 times more than he ever has in the past, but at a healthier pace, and a more sustainable way of living. In this episode, I talk with Carrie about what contributed to his burnout, the underlying heart issues that lead to overworking signs and symptoms to watch out for how he recovered from his burnout, and how he structures his life now to accomplish more with less stress. You know as leaders in God’s Church, the needs are endless, and the stakes are eternal. So we all have this tendency to overwork. And so this episode will help you temporary yourself and create a more healthy and sustainable pace for your life. Carrie drops some major gold in this episode, and I’m excited for you to hear it. But first a quick message from our sponsors this month Planning Center. If there’s one piece of software I can’t live without its Planning Center. Planning Center is the best all in one software for organizing my ministry scheduling my team’s planning my services, letting my audio team know how to set up the stage hosting Song mp3 and chord charts for my band and so much more. I know churches who even use Planning Center to schedule their ushers their greeters communion teams, children’s ministry volunteers and nursery workers and more. It’s so flexible, so powerful and so intuitive that it has made my life so much simpler, and I believe it will make your life better as well. It’s free to try for 30 days. And after that plan started just $14 a month depending on the size of your teams. Check all this out at planning dot center or click the link in the show notes. Alright, let’s get into my interview with Carrie new off.
Alex Enfiedjian 02:50 Hey, everybody, it is my great honor to welcome Carrie new Hoff to the podcast. Carrie, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Carey Nieuwhof 02:57 It’s an honor to be with you. Thank you so much for having me, Alex.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:00 It’s always a great day when I get to interview a Canadian Carrie I think you’re lucky number three. When it comes to Canadian leaders on the podcast, I interviewed your friend Chris vishay. Who you know, and oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Brady Shearer was number two. Oh, yeah.
Carey Nieuwhof 03:13 You Mike Meyers. Jim Carrey you had them on as well. Justin Bieber, you’ve had the biebs on I wish that would be fine.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:20 So Carrie, it is an honor. For me personally, to have you on. I’ve been listening to your podcast since the very first episode with Andy Stanley. And I’ve listened to almost every single episode since then. And it’s consistently occupied my top two or three favorite podcasts for all these years, because you just have a way about it to make it so practical and helpful and insightful. And so I want to encourage my listeners right now to pause this episode, and go find your podcast, the Kerry neuhoff leadership podcast and subscribe to that because it is full of gold every single episode. So thanks for doing that.
Carey Nieuwhof 03:52 Well, thank you. That means a lot, you know, and you always wonder who’s actually listening. And it’s such a joy never gets old to meet you or to meet people who listen and you go, Oh, yeah, God is actually using this in real people’s lives. Yeah, massively, massively.
Alex Enfiedjian 04:08 So today, Carrie, I know, we have a short window of time with you. But I want to talk with you about burnout, balance, recovery and rest, because it’s something that you personally had to navigate as a senior pastor of a rapidly growing church and as a content creator. And it’s something that really any driven leader has to be aware of, and prepare for and fight against in today’s fast paced landscape. So I want you in a second to share about your own burnout story that you had about 10 years ago. But before you tell us that story, I’d like for you to maybe just define the term burnout for us and share why you think it is that church leaders in particular tend to bump up against this reality.
Carey Nieuwhof 04:49 Yeah, burnouts. Really interesting. I mean, it was only within the last year that it actually emerged as an actual medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization. So and I’m writing a whole new book on stress and burnout. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that in the last few months. But if you look at it, technically, it’s three big syndromes or symptoms, I should say. One is exhaustion, you’re just tired all the time, and you’re not being refueled. Second symptom would be just a feeling of detachment, like you’re not really, you’re kind of cynical, you’re kind of detached, you’re kind of removed from people your heart isn’t fully engaged is the way I might phrase it. And then the third is just, I guess, a lack of motivation. It’s just you’re not very motivated. So those are the big three. And you know, in my experience, Alex, that’s like 85% of all people like, I mean, there are polls, I’ve been doing a lot of research, 96% of Americans say they feel stressed. When you look at burnout, I had a chapter in my last book didn’t see it coming on burnout. And it got such a huge response that I’m writing an entire book on it for my next book. And most people are like they read didn’t see it coming and the burnout chapters near the back. And the most consistent feedback I’ve got is Yeah, I didn’t think I was burned out until I read your chapter. And then I’m like, Oh, my goodness. And so I think a lot of us have symptoms, and I would think of it in terms of a sliding scale 10, you know, you’re burned out 10 out of 10. It’s like you’re not getting out of bed, you’re exhausted, you probably can’t function, you can’t create your job, it feels like life is imploded. And I hit a nine out of 1012 years ago. But I think there’s like a low grade burnout. And that’s when you’re a 345 on the scale and my functional definition, not the World Health Organization. But my personal functional definition is the functions of life continue. But the joy of life is gone. And so you’re kind of going through the motions, you’re kind of empty, you don’t feel and we were talking to worship leaders and artists here. So I mean, you guys live out of your heart, I don’t, I’m in enneagram, eight, I live out of my head. But when you live out of your heart, and your heart isn’t working, right, like pay attention, like you used to care, and you’ve gotten kind of cynical and jaded and tired. And you know, another way to describe it would be you just feel numb, you know, your sister had a baby. And you know, you’re supposed to be really happy about that. But like you can’t really access those emotions, or something terrible happens. And you’re like, Oh, well, I think all of that is wrapped up in the stress bubble that we’re in in this burnout moment that we’re in our culture to the point where 80 to 90%. I did a talk in May of 2019, where the event hosts thought it would be cool the live poll the audience, the question was pretty simple. It was like, how many of you have experienced some symptoms of burnout in the last 12 months? 96% of the audience said they had. And when those results got put on the screen, I had to stop. I couldn’t talk. Because I’m like, Are you kidding me? Guys? We finish the rest of the hour just talking about that. So I think it’s a pretty widespread issue.
Alex Enfiedjian 07:59 Yeah, it’s crazy. And you had mentioned, you’ve experienced about a nine out of 10. Can you tell us about you know, the summary story of your burnout and how it got started when it got started? And really what got you there? What were the things that drove you to that Brink?
Carey Nieuwhof 08:13 Well came after about a decade of hands on leadership have always only been a founder, senior pastor, you know, CEO type role for the last 25 years. And, you know, we started with really small churches that became a large, fast growing church. And as we got more people, my formula for leadership at that time, was all just work more hours, and I’ll just work harder, because they’re just more people. And of course, you know, looking back on it, it’s like, well, that’s a dumb move. You hit a wall, and I hit a wall. You know, I started at age 30. And by the time I hit 4041, I had felt cynicism creeping up in me. I was kind of perpetually tired. The functions of life were continuing, but the joy of life was gone. But if you’d stopped me and said, how’s it going? I would have said, Oh, it’s going great man, like, you know, look at our church. It’s fantastic. Like we’re successful. And that was my measure of of success. Now at home, it wasn’t going quite as well. We didn’t have like a headline worthy story. But it wasn’t fun. Uh, you know, we weren’t really getting along and I wasn’t at my best I would kind of bring my leftovers home. But our church was at its biggest size. I felt like I was on top of the world. In the spring of 2006. I spoke at NorthPoint church, Andy Stanley and Reggie Joyner were in the front row along with my family, apparently was a knock it out of the park talk. And I thought, wow, I’m on top of the world. And I got on a plane from Atlanta to go home to Toronto. And when I got home, it’s like I fell off a cliff. And they say that happens that your body and mind just rebel and they go enough. And they call a strike. And so my mind and my body kind of went on strike. And I’d never explained I’ve been tired before, but I would always had control. I could always like Oh, just go to bed. Take the weekend off, you know, you’ll be fine. And I did all those things, I was pushing all the buttons pulling all the levers, and nothing worked. And I hit burnout. And for about three or four months, you know, I got up every day, I got the minimum done at work, but I was a broken monkey, I was busted. And I could barely function. I was socially kind of agoraphobic. I felt depressed every day, I was not very efficient, like I write for a living always have lead and like to write an email was a Herculean task. So that’s what happened to me in the summer, spring, summer of 2006.
Alex Enfiedjian 10:39 Yeah, it’s interesting. You mentioned, things weren’t going very well at home. But things were going great on the outside. And also, you’re kind of measuring the wrong area of success. And I feel like a lot of us who are results oriented, we tend to look at the results and go, if the results are good, then things are good. But you know, inside things are not good. And it can be easy to ignore that. Because externally, everything looks great.
Carey Nieuwhof 11:02 here’s here’s what’s at the heart of that, though, Alex, if you drill a little bit deeper, what I wanted was affirmation. What I wanted was success. What I wanted was a sense of significance. And men get that from their work. I’m not saying women don’t, but just as a guy, I can tell you, I could get that from my work. And as Emerson edrick says said, Men crave respect, women crave love. And when I’m home, I’m just the guy who needs to take out the trash. I’m the guy who was supposed to do this, but didn’t there. Can you run the kids to soccer, hockey? And you know, at work, there are way more rewards, right? Like, hey, if you’re a worship leader, guess what people applaud you on stage, right? Like they do, they think you’re amazing. They think you’re my favorite worship leader, you’re, you’re such a great keyboard player, you’re so amazing at guitar, your drumming is like perfect, and then you get home. And it’s like, you walk the dog. Like, it’s just way more rewarding. And what I had to do was change my definition of success. And, you know, now I say if you’re winning at work, and losing at home, you’re losing. And I think that’s really, really true that it doesn’t matter how many downloads my podcast has, or how many people buy my book, if my wife doesn’t like me, and my kids won’t talk to me, I’m a failure. And, you know, we live in this really bizarre social media age where you can pretend that it’s amazing when it’s not. And when you can have you know, 10s of 1000s, or hundreds or 1000s, or millions of people follow you on social. And you can think, well, they think I’m awesome, well, they don’t even know you, like they, you know, your audience doesn’t know you and doesn’t really matter if somebody in California thinks I’m amazing. When my best friend is mad at me, like it, or my team that I work with every day thinks I’m a jerk. Like, that doesn’t really matter. And so I had to completely reorient my definition of what success or meaning or what this life is all about. And now I look at it like I want the people closest to me, to be the people who are most positively impacted by me. And if that has an outflow into a broader audience of that has an outflow into people on social or podcast listeners or, you know, whatever, obviously, I care about those people like listeners and audience, but I’m jumping on a plane on Friday with my kids and my wife, and we’re going to spend a week together. And they’re going to get the full brunt to me in a way that no audience member or no member of any organization or church is ever going to get me. And they better get a good version of me. Because that’s what I think faithfulness looks like for me in life. And I just, I got that wrong in my 30s. And you know what you can get away with more at home than you can get away with at work. Because I mean, eventually your family could leave sure hate you or whatever. But you know, at work, if you’re a jerk, you’ll just get fired. If you’re at home, people just kind of put up with a little bit more. And so I’ve had to really be careful over the last 15 years to think differently through all of that.
Alex Enfiedjian 13:57 That’s so good. So chasing after the wrong metrics, and looking for applause. What are some of the things that get you to burn out? Never disconnecting from email? no days off? What else?
Carey Nieuwhof 14:09 Yeah, definitely never disconnecting is a problem. And you know, I did it in 2006. Pre iPhone, so people have been burning out for a long time. But I think it’s harder today. Because we carry these little devices in our pocket and in our bags everywhere we go. And we are constantly connected. And people have multiple inboxes and between text messages, and DMS and the whole deal, you’re kind of on call 24 seven. And I think you have to draw some hard boundaries. I just literally before we started this podcast, jumped off a call with my team. And I said my intention is to open up my devices for less than 30 minutes a day. First thing in the morning for a week. I will be unreachable. My phone is staying in the hotel and you won’t be able to reach me. And people are like, Well, you can’t live that way that my team didn’t say that. They get it are a boundaries. But you know, old me would have said, well, you’re too important for that. No, the thing I’m doing with my family is too important for me not to do that. And what this constant on does is I think it creates a gray zone where you’re never really on and you’re never really off. Because when you’re at home, you’re watching Disney plus with your kids. But it’s like, I just gotta answer these five texts. And let me just clear up my inbox and you think it’s five minutes, but 20 minutes has gone by, and you’re in the room, but you’re not really there. And then when you’re at work, you’re trying to get dinner set up, or you’re trying to register your kids for soccer, or you’re trying to so you’ve got this gray zone where when you’re at work, you’re not really working because life intrudes. And when you’re at home, you’re not really at home, because work intrude. So there’s definitely that. Another thing would be like, how about hobbies? What do you do for fun? And do you know how many leaders can answer that question? And work is not a good, I love my job. Like, I love it. It’s great. But that’s a terrible answer. to that question like work is not what you do for fun, I’m lucky to have a fun job, I love it. But that is not what I do for fun. And I didn’t have a hobby all through my 30s other things that get you there, that you really get your meaning and purpose from your work, I think meaning and purpose is something you bring to your work. And so when you let your relationship with God slide, when you aren’t really alive, personally, like your audience is largely artists and musicians. But you know, from a preacher perspective, which I’ve done for 25 years, it’s a similar problem. There’s a lot of preachers who haven’t heard from God in a long time. And that’s because all of a sudden, what you believe is what you do. And so years ago, I had to set it and listen, I burned out when I had this discipline, so it’s not bulletproof. But I started reading through the Bible, in a year, every year because I realized, Oh, this is what’s going to happen. I’m preaching on Romans, therefore, I’m reading in Romans, and no, that’s my job. You know, if I stopped working at a church today, what would be left of my faith? That’s a really good question to ask. So I try to have that first few minutes to hour of the morning, where that’s about me and God, it’s not about leadership. And God, it’s not about church and God, it’s about me and God, so that if you pull the church out of me or the leadership away from me, that there’s something left in my relationship with God. So those are some of the the challenges I think you have, and I think church work makes it way more confusing. Because what you believe, is also what you do, right, which is weird. And then you do it with the people that you’re actually in community with, who are also the people that you’re leading. And I think that creates a perfect storm of just utter confusion for most leaders.
Alex Enfiedjian 17:41 Oh, my goodness, it sounds so dangerous to a church leader. I think it was a was it. Paul Tripp who wrote dangerous calling? It might not have been Paul Tripp. But yeah, yeah. Oh, my gosh, that book sounds just like what you’re talking about. It’s such a dangerous and messy middle that we have to walk and you hit burnout at around age 40. Right. Is that correct? Do you think there’s something about that age that, you know, midlife crisis, as you always hear about coming up? 40 and burnout? What do you think? Is there anything to that? Or Not really,
Carey Nieuwhof 18:10 yet? No, I think there is. And I don’t have stats. But I spent some time with Gordon McDonald recently, who’s lived eight decades now. And he says there’s something about that 38 to 42 window, I get so many texts and calls from friends who are in that zone going I don’t know what’s going on here. But you’re not a young leader anymore. I mean, you’re still young ish, but it’s sort of a turning point where you’re like, Oh, crap, I’m gonna be 40 hours. And then you get into, okay, well, I’ve done adult life for two decades. What is this really all about? So yeah, I think and, and also, if you’ve been pedal to the metal for a decade or two, that just catches up with you, like, you’re not living at a sustainable pace. And so I think for all those reasons, yeah, that seems to be a crisis point for a lot of people
Alex Enfiedjian 18:56 pedal to the metal for two decades. Yeah, that sounds like it would get you there. Something my wife and I recently started doing as I started to research Sabbath, and just learn about it and try to understand the heart behind Sabbath. And that Sabbath is when you do things that you want to do not things that you have to do. And it’s about joy and recovery and all these things. And we started doing a thing called free Friday, where we basically do no chores, we do no work, we do nothing. And it was because we were kind of in that pedal to the metal state that you just described, where it’s like, every day is full of activity, and it’s all important stuff. It all needs to get done. But like choosing to interrupt it and say no, I deserve to rest. God made me to work six days and rest one day, and I shouldn’t think that I’m invincible, you know that I could just keep pushing and kill myself eventually, you know, so you came out of burnout. It was a medium length season. What were some of the things that you started to do to get healthy to get out of that season?
Carey Nieuwhof 19:54 Yeah, part of it was just injuring it honestly and not doing something stupid. I didn’t have an Fair, there was a suicidal window where I really had more thoughts in my life about ending my life than I’d ever had before. And you know that it’s not like the thought hadn’t occurred to me, but it was like, an active temptation. And I’m so thankful I didn’t do anything stupid. I’m so thankful we don’t own weapons to this day, because I shudder to think what would have happened if it would have been easy to do that in that season. I didn’t have an affair, which I’m so thankful for. But for the first time, you know, you’re feeling so bad, you’re like, Oh, I wonder if this is how it happens. Like, this is where you are when that kind of thing happens. And so we basically it was try to avoid doing something stupid, like quitting your job, for the wrong reasons, and having an affair or harming yourself. And I did by the grace of God. But some days, that was just a decision like today, I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’m just going to get through to the end, I’m going to go to bed, and I will wake up and see what happens tomorrow, I went to counseling, which was really helpful. It was probably counseling. And I’m not saying this in a way that’s negative about my counselors, but that contributed to the breakdown, because I was going through some deep stuff around performance, anxiety, and some wounds, you know, earlier in life, that probably you know, depression is lost. So I was feeling like I was in a season of loss. And then, you know, there was the physical exhaustion from a decade as well, but not quitting and not doing anything stupid kind of brought me into a season where I remember it all started to unravel in May. And by September, I felt the first flicker of passion returned, because my passion would completely died. Like intellectually, I knew the gospel was important. And the church I had founded was important. But emotionally, I didn’t feel it at all. And then I started to feel a passion for the mission, again, just like a flicker like just like, the lights went on, out there off. But that was good. After three months of feeling nothing but negative emotions, and started to laugh again, a little bit, and then slowly, you know, it’s like you’re learning to walk before you run again. But I could stand up on my own two feet. And I could walk a little bit, and then I’d have to sit down, so to speak metaphorically, but probably after about a year after it started, by the following May May of oh seven, I was back to 70% 80%. So on the outside, it looked like I was 100%. But on the inside, it was still wonky. And then we launched a church connexus church Later that year, and I got through that, okay, but there was still the eerie kind of like, what the heck just happened. And then because the pain is so deep, all I wanted to do was get back to normal. But I began to have the, the insight to realize that Oh, normal is what killed me. Like, if I go back to normal Am I burned out again, in six months, in a year, in a decade, like I don’t, even when it’s that painful, I didn’t want to go back. So then I focused for a few more years on creating a new normal. And that was a lot of coaching, more counseling. And, you know, eventually I teach that stuff now in the high impact leader, and it’ll get out in my next book, which comes out in September of 2020, where I sort of talk about the whole life system I set up. And then I’ve had the privilege of helping 1000s of leaders adopt in their own life that has made this very, very sustainable to the point where I’m leading five to 10x what I was before I burned out, but I’m packing up my suitcase and heading out and going to unplug for a week. And I’m actually in good shape most days like a really am. And that’s bizarre because you’re doing far more like accomplishing far more, but working less and feeling healthy. Hmm.
Alex Enfiedjian 23:42 Yeah. So talk to us. I don’t want you to give away your whole book, The 2020 book, but talk to us a little bit about some of those systems that you have in your life that sustain health. Maybe just tell us about what your weekly rhythm looks like to make sure you’re having rest in good relationships and recreation. And maybe if you have a Sabbath routine, what does that look like? How are you rejuvenating yourself each week? So
Carey Nieuwhof 24:06 I’ll start with what I’m not doing? Well, I stink at Sabbath, even all these years later, I don’t have a Sabbath. And I wish I did like honestly, it’s probably Saturday. But I’ll often do something for a couple hours in the morning just because I like it so much, but I’m not. I want to develop that as a rhythm. My wife actually has put that into her life this year and has really enjoyed it. So I think we might look at a shared Sabbath for 2020. But you know, Sabbath is something that a lot of people limp into. It’s like working for the weekend, right? It’s like I’m so exhausted. I just can’t wait to get to Friday night. And I can’t wait to have a day off Saturday. It’s like this vacation coming up right over the last few years. I haven’t run tired into vacations I used to get the joke is Oh, it takes you three days on vacation to wind down enough to enjoy your vacation then you got to gear up for going back. Well that’s not me anymore. Because your daily rhythms the one phrase I don’t mind sharing at all, Alex. But the one phrase that sort of unites at all, for me is living away today that will help you thrive tomorrow. That’s his slogan for my company. It’s a slogan for my life. It’s something I think about every day. And like in that team meeting today, we ran into a conflict with my podcast where I realized, Oh, I’m going to be in Toronto on a Wednesday, I have to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on a Thursday. And I just said to my staff, Hey, guys, I cannot do a late night flight. Now could I do a late night flight? Yeah, I could do one once in a while. But I’m not going to Why? Because it’s not living in a way today that will help me thrive tomorrow. So what that does, it starts by making sleep an anchor. So I try to sleep I’m not like an eight or nine hour sleeper. But instead of doing four hours a night, I’m doing six to seven, sometimes eight, over the last year have I experimented by getting rid of the alarm clock in the morning unless I have to catch a flight or have an early morning meeting, which I rarely do. So I don’t use an alarm anymore. I try to sleep I try to sleep on on the front side go to bed early. I think that does produce results. So foundation is rest, I am exercising, I didn’t do that all through my 30s trying to care for my body. not perfectly. I got some hobbies. So hobbies are wonderful. I know hobbies. So I barbecue I cycle. And I boat we live near Lake. So those are things like in the summer, they’re a little bit easier. But I do them year round, not the boating obviously. But I do that. And then another big thing is I moved to a fixed calendar. So this is what I teach in the high impact leader. This will be the heart of the new book. But the fixed calendar, basically your life consists of repeated patterns. So if you think about it, I don’t know exactly what the life of a worship leader is. But you know, there’s certain things you have to do. You have to schedule, you’ve got to prepare, you got to rehearse, you got to practice, you got to pick songs, you’ve got to recruit team members, you’ve got to meet with your best people, whatever that is, for me, it’s creating content. Like there’s a sermon, you know, sermon series, there’s a sermon coming. There’s a blog post, there’s a book, there’s a podcast to be planned for. So your life consists of repeated patterns, and you get 24 equal hours in a day, but not all hours are created equal. Some of us are morning people, some of us are night owls. But most people and the more I’ve researched this, this will be at the heart of the book, too, is most of us have three to five productive hours a day period, that’s when we’re at our best you’d like to think No, I can go for 12 hours, you really can’t. Because your brain God didn’t actually design you that way. Most people and if you listen to this, you’ll hear it all over the culture. But the most brilliant software engineers in the world, the best CEOs, the best leaders, they’re like, no, I got about three to four hours of highly productive time, mine happens to fit in the morning, between about seven and 11am. That’s when I’m at my best if I want to write, the best stuff flows out of me as a rule in that window. And so then what I used to do was, I used to treat all the hours as though they didn’t matter, maybe I’ll fly out early in the morning, maybe I’ll do a breakfast meeting or whatever. And then I still have my big job to do, which is to write a message. But when I start that at three o’clock in the afternoon, it’s not a very productive process. If I start that at 7am. So what I try to do, I call it the green zone, identify your green zone where your energy is at its highest, where you’re feeling at your best and do your most important work in that green zone. And then there are two other zones you have in different hours of the day, your yellow zone where your energy, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. It’s just kind of in the middle, and then your red zone where you’re dragging, you’re just like, ah, I need to go to bed or get some caffeine or whatever. And all of us have those in the hours will vary. But do your most important work in your green zone, your middling work in the middle in the yellow zone, and then the stuff that really doesn’t matter. Just try to pound that out in the red zone like empty your inbox or fill out your expense reports you know if that’s if you’re not an accountant, if you’re an accountant, do that in your green zone, because that’s important. But you know, if it’s just like photocopy these receipts, or scan these receipts or whatever, just do that when you’re not at your best or or do a non critical meeting in that window. And doing what you’re best at when you’re at your best has made a huge difference, a huge difference in productivity, effectiveness. And honestly, when I do that well and I don’t do it well every day, but when I do it well, sometimes I feel like I could just finish up at 10am and I’ve accomplished everything I need to accomplish for that day. And the rest kinda doesn’t really matter.
Alex Enfiedjian 29:32 Yeah, I think kreger shell talks about that he says energy management right rather than time it
Carey Nieuwhof 29:36 is 100% energy management.
Alex Enfiedjian 29:39 So those are some of the things you do for maintaining healthy rhythms. I’d love for you to chat a little bit more you kind of talked about it but smartphone usage you know, you talked about this gray zone where work is not really work because it’s interrupted by life but life is not really life because interrupted by work. So what is your smartphone usage look like? Because I feel like that is One thing that church leaders are going to need to really Shepherd people through in the next decade. What does it look like for you? 100%.
Carey Nieuwhof 30:07 So first thing I have done is shut off all notifications. So almost anytime you download an app or you get a new phone and you upload everything, or anytime you visit a new website, they’re like, well, you because we’re in alignment, let me do the meta first on this because we’re in the attention economy, like the way people make money today is they try to grab your attention. And listen, I’m part of the attention economy. I’m a writer, I’m a podcaster. What do I want you to do? I want you to download my podcast, I want you to read my blog, right? So we are paying literally, with attention. So that’s why the default from every organization they need to ask you permission is will you join my email list? Will you allow notifications, so your homescreen just looks completely completely lit up. Right. So I got a few things here, I allowed text through on my home screen, but the volume button is off. And if you scroll down to your home screen, the little moon sign on my iPhone, always lit Do Not Disturb. So this thing can be in my pocket. It never buzzes, it never rings never vibrates, there’s not even a sign that anything has come in. That’s huge. There’s studies that show that a single interruption a knock at the door, or Oh, I better see what text that is, can take you up to 25 minutes to refocus to the point where you were focused before you looked away. So distraction is just the enemy of deep work of progress of focus of you being at your best, or even your creative best. Like if this is a podcast for creatives. I’m a creative, not musically, but I’m a creative in terms of my words. And you know how it is where you’re deep in thought, and you’re on a roll, and then there’s interruption. And it’s like, you come back and you’re just so rattled. So for my phone, making sure it doesn’t interrupt me on my computers, because I’m talking to you on an iMac, I’ve got an iPad next to me and my MacBook Pro is upstairs, and all those notifications are off. And if I want to look at Slack, I’ll look at it when I have some time, if I want to look at my email, I’ll look at my email when I have time. And so I think that is really, really critical. So the first thing I would say, is turn your ringer off, set your phone to do not disturb and then go through all of your apps and disallow all notifications. And if you’re worried about missing something, the secret on an iPhone anyway, it’s a little different for an Android is you just put someone on a favorite setting. And then when they call their call goes through if anybody calls you anymore, and you will see their texts. And that’s it. And then I am not a slave to my phone. My phone serves me. So that’s one thing. Another thing I’m trying to do more and more is I don’t sleep with devices in my bedroom, unless I’m at a hotel and away from my wife, then I’ll have it on my nightstand. And people say well, what about an alarm by an alarm clock, like if he did alarm by an alarm clock, they sell alarm clock, so you don’t need to use your phone. Because all the studies are now saying that that kind of blue light before you go to bed or whatever it agitates your brain. And so I generally My phone is away. And I actually charge it on not just a different room, but a different floor of my house. So I have to go down three flights of stairs to get to my phone because I charge it here in my basement in my office. And that’s where it is overnight. So those are the things I’m doing for Device Management. Another trick I’ll use, because I still have workaholic tendencies is if I’m worried I’m going to work too much. I will unplug my laptop. And I’m like when the battery dies, you got to close it. Or you can do a hard stop, where I’ll say to my wife, because we’re empty nesters. Now, it’s like Guess what? at six o’clock tonight before dinner, our devices are away. And we’re on the clock with each other, right? So you just you do a hard stop. But you’ve got to do this device management because people have access and digital proximity. You know, digital proximity is different than physical proximity. So if I’m at your office in LA, and I see that you’re in the middle of a podcast interview, pretty clear. You got headphones on you got a microphone in front of your face. And I’m knocking on your door. I’m probably getting the very beginning.
Carey Nieuwhof 34:22 Yeah, did happen. I know. I’m like that guy, that guy should have left you alone, right? But there’s a certain human intuition that comes in that it’s like, oh, Alex looks like he’s busy. I’m gonna leave him alone. If I’m texting you, I have no idea what you’re doing. And that’s why you’re in the middle of you know, a sunny day in the summer on the beach with your family. And you get five texts that afternoon from people who are like, Hey, man, I got this new song you want to listen to and let me know what you think. And it’s somebody you haven’t talked to in three months, right? digital doesn’t have manners like people do. Right? And so you’ve got to figure out you can’t get mad at them. You just have to say, I’m not actually just gonna answer my phone. For a week, or a day or an hour or two hours, so I think some technology Free Zones like we when we got married a long time ago, but, you know, an early decision for us because it wasn’t the screen that we had then was TV, right. And we just said, TV’s not gonna be in our living room, it was briefly when we didn’t have a family room, but it’s not going to be in our living room, because living rooms for community reading conversation group, not going to be in our kitchen, because meals are sacred. And meals are where we have conversations and shared experiences, we’re not going to have one in our bedroom, because bedrooms for each other and intimacy. So basically, the only place we ever had a TV was in a family room or that kind of thing. And I think that was a good decision. And back now, you know, everything’s portable devices. But remember, when cars had DVD players, we decided that we were going to put one in because we wanted conversations to happen in our car, not the kids to be stuck on movies. Yeah. And so I think you have to, I don’t know whether those rules will work for you. But it is amazing. What happens when you just decide to put limits around that. And I’m as Listen, I run a virtual business these days. So I’m on the internet all the time. But I’ve got to put boundaries around that. And I’ve got a live and analog life. And I’m learning like not everything needs to be Instagram. So on this vacation, I’m going on my plan, you can ask me in a week, whether it worked or not. But my plan is I’m not doing any personal posts for seven days, which is the first time in probably five years, I haven’t been on Instagram personally, almost every day, but I’m just not gonna do it. My team will post some stuff content related. But now that is space for my family, my wife. And for me,
Alex Enfiedjian 36:41 that’s awesome. There’s so much golden there. And we can chase after a million of those things. But we can’t. So I want to move on from just that to kind of begin rounding out the conversation wrapping it up. I feel like some of the listeners are not sure if they are on the brink of burnout. And you had mentioned at the beginning there some symptoms that when people did a test, you know, 97% agreed that they had experienced one of those symptoms. In your book you have I think 11 symptoms of burnout or pre burnout, could you just quickly share some of those key symptoms that people should look for, so that they can do an assessment on themselves.
Carey Nieuwhof 37:19 Yeah, go ahead run you through a few. One is that your passion is fading. And I get that age changes things, but you want to wake up passionate about something. And I do that these days, like for the last decade, plus, I’m excited about having this conversation and writing and yeah, there’s stuff about my job I don’t like Welcome to the real world. But you know, overall, there should be passion, there should be passion for your marriage passion for your kids. And Burnett would say, maybe you don’t like your job or whatever. Well that that’s an issue in your life. But when all your passion is gone, that’s a sign. Another big one, sleep and rest no longer refuel you. So you know, when you go to bed, sometimes it’ll take two or three good night’s sleep to catch up. But there should be a cause and effect a cause and effect, right? Like, okay, I got proper rest, I took care of myself, I took a break. Now I feel better. If you don’t feel better. That’s a sign that something else is wrong, a really silly one, but you don’t laugh anymore. You know, life has some ups and downs, emotionally, some other signs is you really don’t feel anything you feel kind of numb. It feels like you’re driving across the Great Plains or the prairies where everything’s just flat all the time, and you don’t feel the highs or the lows. You know, the scripture says that we should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. And when you’re burned out, you just don’t you can’t you can’t access that part of what God created anymore when dad on you. Another sign would be when you do have emotions, they’re inappropriate. So, you know, here’s an example your eight year old didn’t unload the dishwasher when she was supposed to. And that’s a three out of 10. Like, yeah, you got to pay attention to that. But that’s not a big deal. But you had a 12 out of 10 nuclear meltdown in the kitchen over it. When it’s disproportionate. That’s another sign. So and then a final one I might offer up. There’s a few more in the book, but you’re growing cynical. And the way to know you’re growing cynical, is look back on yourself 510 1520 years ago, and think about when you were an optimist, and were you more optimistic than than you are now. And if you were pay attention to that, just pay attention to that.
Alex Enfiedjian 39:24 Yeah, yeah, those are very helpful. And there’s a whole bunch more in the book that people can check out. Now. If someone’s listening, and they’re going, Oh, my gosh, he just listed those off. And I think I’m burning out any final words for that person listening that you would encourage them with to just head away from the cliff, how would you encourage them? Yeah,
Carey Nieuwhof 39:42 I would say first tell somebody tell somebody silence is a terrible killer. And it’s really hard. There’s less stigma attached to burnout now and maybe you’re not burning out maybe you’re just tired. I don’t know. But like, tell somebody Hey, I’m not okay. I need somebody to know that I’m worried about myself. Then that could be your doctor, it could be your spouse, it could be your best friend, but tell somebody who’s in the position to care about you, and somebody who’s in a position to help you. And then the other thing is get help that might start with a counselor. It’s like, why am I the way I am? Why do I run myself into the ground? Why do I have no boundaries? Right? All those kinds of things? What am I really chasing? So counseling was incredibly good Christian counselor can be of help. And then the other thing I would say, and I teach this in the high impact leader in some of my writings, and soon my new book, but figure out how you can live in a way today, that will help you thrive tomorrow. And the fixed calendar as part of that, that I talked about, and just making up some rules that actually work for you, like, stop sleeping with your devices in your room, turn all the notifications off, on your phone, decide you’re gonna have some hours where you’re not working, and you are going to be fully engaged at Disney plus with your girls, and you’re not going to be on your phone, trying to cord out the next song that you’ve got to do for Sunday, or recruiting that last bass player because it’s always the bass player and the drummer you can’t get and so you’re you know, you’re like, I just can’t make one more phone call. No, don’t, you know, do it tomorrow. And that will also make you more efficient, because there’s another law, which is really interesting. I forget. It’s in my book. I think it’s called McDougal. Now, it’s not McDougal. But it’s it’s a law. That’s Douglass’s law, I don’t know what it is, one of your listeners will correct you, me. But it’s work expands to the time available to fill it. If you have 10 hours to write a song or write a song in 10 hours, if you have two hours, you’ll come up with something in two hours. So if you don’t put those artificial limits on because work goes everywhere with us now, you will just work non stop, and you’ll be in that perpetual gray zone. So those are some things that I think you could do. And then once you have that, once you get recovered, you have to have that rhythm where you live in a way today, as in now. It’s not a busy season, seasons have beginnings and endings. If you’re busy season has no ending. It’s not a season, it’s your life. So live in a way today that will help you thrive tomorrow, and thrive tomorrow, not survive. drag yourself into a but like, wow, I get to do this. And I think I think that’s possible.
Alex Enfiedjian 42:16 Carrie, this has been amazing. And guys, Kari covers the topic of burnout and six other super helpful topics that every leader faces in your new book Carrie called, didn’t see it coming. So I’ll put a link in the show notes for the listeners. And it was such a good book. Carrie, I have a right here. And I literally drained my highlighter on this book. My my wife said are you enjoying your coloring book? And I was like, Oh, yes, I saw that on social. That’s like my favorite. It’s nice to make the connection. That was Thank you. I appreciate that. That’s a guideline. Tell you what, creative? Yes, yes. So guys get the book and I’ll put links in the show notes. And then Carrie’s next book comes out, he said, which month 2020 September, September of
Carey Nieuwhof 42:57 2020 is a date right now we are working on the title as we speak. Awesome. I think it’s gonna be called this much stress is not okay, but we’ll see. Dude, that’s good.
Alex Enfiedjian 43:06 So we’ll definitely be promoting that as well for you. So thank you for serving the church. Where can people find you online? Where can obviously the podcast carry neuhoff leadership podcast? I’ll put a link in the show notes.
Carey Nieuwhof 43:16 But where else can they find you? Well, my name is hard to spell it care why. And I II uw HOF. And if you didn’t catch that listening at 1.5 speed, you can go to lead like never before.com that’ll get you right there.
Alex Enfiedjian 43:30 Awesome. Thanks, Carrie. Thank you for your time today and have an awesome vacation and rest. Thanks. Thanks, Alex. Appreciate you. Alright, well that’s it for this episode. If you know somebody who you think is overworking or unhealthy or on the verge of burnout, I would please please encourage you to send them this episode. And let the Lord use it to minister to them and get them to a healthier place in their life. And so thanks for tuning into this episode. Please go check out all of Karis resources. I’ve put links in the show notes, just click on it, it’ll take you right to the page that you need to get to. And also check out our sponsor Planning Center at planning dot center to Super simplify your life and ministry when it comes to all things administrative as a worship leader.
Unknown Speaker 44:15 Alright guys,
Alex Enfiedjian 44:16 that’s it for this month. I’m looking forward to next month I have the great opportunity to talk to Ryan Romeo from the outcry tour on how to get your big dreams off the ground. I’ll see you then. Thanks for being a listener and thanks for being on this journey with me. God bless