Best work comes from not burning out

Twice in my life, I have worked 6 months or more, without a single day’s break. Here is what happened.

The first time, I was serving as the Trivandrum City Police Commissioner, facing a near-daily political circus, agitation, and rioting.

Usually, my ‘Sunday break’ just meant working from home. But for six odd months, I had to physically go to office even on Sundays.

One particular Sunday, when I was planning to be at home, my boss called and said, ‘For tomorrow’s police deployment, please brief the policemen personally.’

I told him, ‘Sir, this is a minor agitation — the Cantonment ACP will take care of it.’

Playing his trump card, he said, ‘No, the DGP wants you to do it personally.’

Not wanting anyone to question my commitment, I did the pointless exercise.

In 6 months, I was toast — burnt out totally.

And what good did it do? Nothing. With an occasional break, I would have been less irritable and more of service.

I had a repeat experience four years ago as an entrepreneur. The end result? Same thing — burnout. It made little difference to my startup.

As a serial ‘burnout martyr’, I have only one piece of advice — the world deserves your best work, not your ‘burnt toast’ version.

There is no shame in saying ‘no.’

– Rajan

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