Fatigue is real

October 6, 2019
By Rowan Belchers

Fatigue is real, and particularly at this time of year.

That is if you view your year in calendar increments. Some don’t and make the argument that keeping it ‘all together’ until the ‘Christmas Collapse’ is sub-optimal. In fact, my business partner Anne Hartslief considers October to be the start of her new year so that she doesn’t get out of the starting blocks too slowly in January and find herself in March before she gets things together.

But that’s an aside.

What I want to write about is ‘fatigue’.

My sense is that there is something useful in feeling fatigued if you know what questions to ask about it.

In my view, fatigue has very specific pre-conditions for executive leaders, and I offer some suggestions below:


I have observed that CEOs – broadly – fit into two opposite camps when it comes to how they think about their work: ‘endure’ or ‘joy’. If you think about your work in a way that doesn’t allow you to do it with joy, then it’s likely that you’re in the ‘endure’ camp. Roughly 80% of CEOs I’ve worked with would join you here.

No buffering:

If you allow your system to overload you, it will because of how people naturally defer to authority. Unless you are fastidious about maintaining time and space for yourself, you will be swamped.

Underperforming Exco:

Your Exco is your salvation and needs to be built with your needs in mind. They must serve your agenda and do the lion’s share of the heavy-lifting so you can be at your strategic, visionary best with the broadest possible perspective. If this isn’t the case, your Exco is either under-skilled, under-challenged, under-confident or under-committed.

Doing the wrong work:

We all have different talents and we all find certain work easy and certain work hard. In my view, the surest way to achieve ‘flow’ is to be really selective about what you do best and really boundaried against what doesn’t come naturally to you by outsourcing out to an Exco member. Learn more about the Enneagram if you want to understand this better.

Overdue a change of scenery:

Sometimes a system wants to spit you out, simply because your natural usefulness has expired. It’s natural and you shouldn’t fight it. But you should get ahead of the game and initiate the change yourself. Other systems will likely welcome your new ideas.

Look hard at your fatigue. It holds valuable learnings within it.

Rowan Belchers

Rowan Belchers

Rowan is the founder and CEO of Lockstep, a business leadership consultancy. Lockstep works with CEO’s, executive teams and future leaders globally, partnering with clients who seek customised leadership solutions. Rowan is a highly respected advisor to CEOs with over two decades’ experience in guiding businesses and their leaders towards reaching their fullest potential. Rowan leads The CEO Project, a Lockstep initiative.
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