Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made a surprising statement at the 92nd Street Y recently: burnout is a myth. The reason we feel exhausted from work, she said, isn't because we're working too much, but because we're missing things that matter to us.
"I don't really believe in burnout," she said. "A lot of people work really hard for decades and decades, like Winston Churchill and Einstein. Burnout is about resentment. It's about knowing what matters to you so much that if you don't get it, that you're resentful."
Mayer knows a thing or two about working long hours. In Google's early days, she worked around the clock, putting in at least one all-nighter a week during her first five years on the job. "It was 130-hour weeks," she added. "People say, 'there's only 168 hours in a week, how can you do it?' Well, if you're strategic about when you shower and sleeping under your desk, it can be done."
Managers, says Mayer, should be proactive and ask employees who grow annoyed or fatigued with long workweeks what actually matters to them. "You can't have everything you want, but you can have the things that are really important to you and that empower you to work really hard for a really long time on things that you're passionate about," she said. For some employees, that means the freedom to leave work at 4 p.m. to make it to a child's game or music recital on time -- even if he or she is in the middle of a meeting with C-suite members.
What do you think about Marissa Mayer's unique take on burnout?
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