I know this invitation was included at the end of last week’s Pause blog post, but in case you might have missed it I want to make special mention of it in a separate post.
I’ve been doing some R & D work on a particular aspect of engagement in work and life – the concept of malaise.
We’re all pretty familiar with stress and burnout – that dramatic stretched-to-the-limits, crash and burn phenomenon. Malaise is different.
Malaise is more like rusting out, feeling stale, bored, lethargic, restless, joyless or adrift – suffering the dis-ease of being under-challenged or feeling under-engaged. It can be every bit as challenging as burnout.
My interest was triggered by what I have been noticing in some individuals as they reach the latter part of their careers. Although I don’t think malaise is restricted to that stage of life, it does seem to be more prevalent there.
I’m interested in learning how we might avoid long stretches of malaise and move more quickly to light a spark and find a path through to a more joyful and enthusiastic experience of life and work.
To that end, I’ve done a number of interviews on this issue, and just last week I released a survey to start gathering more input.
Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Malaise I would be delighted if you could take five to ten minutes to respond to the survey.
I’ll be collecting replies up until the end of April. if there are other people in your circle whom you think may have an interest in sharing their thoughts on the issue of malaise, please share the access link as freely as you wish.
Although I haven’t reviewed all the 300 responses submitted so far, some of the early comments are showing that people are finding the questions intriguing and very helpful in guiding them to think about their own experiences with malaise in their lives and organizations.
I’ll keep in touch, and share more on this subject as my work unfolds.
Reflection: I expect you’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks.
You’ll recall Goldilocks entered the house of the three bears and set about finding what was right for her. Porridge: too hot, too cold, or just right. Chair: too big, too small, or just right. Bed: too hard, too soft, or just right.
Goldilocks’ search for the right fit makes her an interesting role model for balance (break and enter aside).
We’re all familiar with the ’too hot, too big, too hard’ side of this equation. That’s the world of overload and burnout where we find ourselves on fire, racing at top speed, flat out, overcommitted and overwhelmed.
We may be highly engaged, but we’re just as likely to be exhausted. Things are just not right. This overextended phenomenon of ‘too-much-ness’ gets a lot of attention.
From time to time, many of us also experience the ‘too cold, too small, too soft’ scenario. This is where we’ve outgrown one or more elements of our lives and our everyday patterns no longer fit as well as they once did.
We may feel restless, pinched, diminished, bored, joyless or adrift, suffering the dis-ease of finding ourselves under-challenged or under-engaged. Things are just not right. This malaise phenomenon gets much less attention even though it, too, causes distress.
Action: I’ve experienced malaise myself, more than once in my life. At those points, it’s not that things are all wrong, it’s more like they’re not all right any more.
It was a recent round of malaise that first pointed me in the direction of painting – as a way to light a spark in the areas of learning and creative expression. And, boy did it ever do that for me!
Rest easy! I’m not advocating painting as a panacea for everyone. But, I can suggest an approach that might help you find your way to a better place – or help you guide others who may find themselves stuck. (more…)