What Really Causes Burnout (and it’s not what we’ve been told) and What You Can Do About It

What Really Causes Burnout (and it’s not what we’ve been told) and What You Can Do About It

Most people think that burnout happens because of what we are doing. But, that’s not the case. Burnout is CAUSED by what you are NOT doing. This episode breaks down what that looks like and what you can do to course correct.

Most people think that burnout happens because of what we are doing.  But, that’s not the case.  What we are doing may accelerate burnout, but it doesn’t cause it. Burnout is CAUSED by what you are NOT doing.  This episode breaks down what that looks like and what you can do to course correct.

About my guest:

Zach White is known for changing the game in engineering career & leadership coaching. He has worked with hundreds of leaders from top technology companies worldwide including Facebook (Meta), Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, to industry giants like General Motors, Nike, Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, and many more to escape burnout and achieve breakthrough career results. Zach is the Founder & CEO of Oasis of Courage, known as OACO, a fast-growing company with unique and proven coaching programs exclusively for engineering leaders. He also hosts a top rated show, The Happy Engineer Podcast, where listeners discover the steps to engineering success through expert interviews and Zach's own transformational framework, the Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint ©.


[00:02] Bobbi: Welcome to UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What, where we talk about how to make your next chapter in life your best chapter. I’m your host, Bobbi Kahler, and I believe that the best is yet to come. Welcome back, everyone. Today we’re going to talk about what actually causes burnout, and it might surprise you because it differs from what you’ve likely heard in the past. However, as soon as I heard it, it made perfect sense, and it was very powerful. My guest, Zach White, has a personal experience with burnout that I think many of us can relate to. So a little bit about Zach before you meet him. He is known for changing the game in engineering career and leadership coaching. He has worked with hundreds of leaders from top technology companies worldwide, including Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, and also some industry giants like General Motors, Nike, Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, and many more to help them escape burnout and achieve breakthrough career results. Zach is the founder and CEO of Oasis of Courage, and stay tuned in the interview so that you can learn why his company is called that. It’s also very powerful and inspiring. Oasis of Courage is a fast growing company with unique and proven coaching programs exclusively for engineering leaders. He also hosts a top rated show, the Happy Engineer Podcast, where listeners discover the steps to engineering success through expert interviews and Zach’s own transformational framework, the Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint. It’s time to meet Zach. Zach, welcome to the show.

[01:50] Zach: Bobbi. What an awesome opportunity. Thanks for having me.

[01:54] Bobbi: Absolutely. I’m looking forward to this, and I thought we’d just dive right in with a little bit about your backstory.

[02:02] Zach: Well, Bobbi, there’s so many places to take it, but I’ll begin where all good backstories begin, which is Purdue University.

[02:10] Bobbi: All right.

[02:12] Zach: That’s right. Boiler up for any boilermakers out there. Studied mechanical engineering, and my whole life revolved around academics, Bobbi. I was really given a lot of praise for my ability to learn, and I was smart, and my dad was an engineer, and I wanted to be an engineer. And I got out of Purdue, landed a great job at a big company. I was at Whirlpool Corporation in their Rotational Leadership Development Program, this fancy phrase for top talent intake thing. And I’ll tell you, Bobbi, I was somebody, like, really excited. Life was good, moving exactly the way I wanted it to go, and I was hungry for success. I really wanted to prove to myself and to my mom and to everybody who spoke so highly of my potential that I could do. And so I got to work. And looking back, what I tell everybody is I only had one strategy for that success, Bobbi. It was to work harder, get smarter. That always had served me in school, and I started down that path. I got married shortly after graduating and just got to work. And while everything seemed fine on the surface, Bobbi the truth is, fast forward just six years later and I found myself in a place I never expected to be. I was sitting in a beautiful office caddy corner from my divorce attorney. And for her, it was just another day, another day at the office. But for me, this was the last place I ever expected to know. Back up a couple of years and I had begun into this downward spiral toward burnout that led to divorce and depression and disappointment, embarrassment, and asking myself, how in the world did Zach, the guy with all this potential, the one who had it all going for him, end up here? It’s the last place I wanted to be or expected to be. And it really hurt. Just grinding my face against rock bottom. Is that’s right? And there was a recovery journey of grief, but also looking at, how do I do this different? I still wanted to be successful. There was still more in my life that I felt I could accomplish. And there was a part of me that longed for it. But now I was afraid to go after it because of what had happened. And it began a journey of really deep inner work to say, how do I approach this whole career thing and business thing differently without this burnout, without going down that downward spiral again? And that ultimately became what is now what we call lifestyle engineering. And I’m a full time coach, taking everything that I learned, which Bobbi that discovery journey led me to the most success I’d ever had. Five promotions in five years, doubled my income, got remarried to the most amazing woman on the planet, and couldn’t be happier with where my life has led to now. But it was not without some trials and major setbacks along the way. So that’s how we got here. And it’s been quite a ride.

[05:12] Bobbi: Wow. Something there, too. I mean, oh, my God. Zach when you said the work harder, get smarter, that being your that could be tattooed on my was how I that’s how I survived, that’s how I got accomplishments. And it sounds like same thing for you.

[05:32] Zach: That’s hard to let go of, especially when it works for so long.

[05:37] Bobbi: Right.

[05:37] Zach: In school, that always served me. If I wasn’t on track to get an A in the class, I just needed to put down the video game controller, study a little harder, go to office hours, get smarter and do it. And I always got my A. That’s right. And unfortunately, you get into your career or you start a business and there is no syllabus and there is no end of the semester grade. And all of those things we get conditioned to, among other challenges of life, don’t serve you and lead to the kind of failure I experienced.

[06:10] Bobbi: Yeah. So there you are. You hit rock bottom as you describe. What did you do?

[06:20] Zach: Well, if you go to the moment where the floor and I collided. I was at a road trip for work. I was in Tennessee. I was living in Michigan. I was in Tennessee at a factory. Really busy, week long hours, probably put in 80 hours. That week had great outcomes. Lots of praise and recognition from the plant leadership for the work that I’d done. And I came back home feeling so proud of myself. And I probably hadn’t spoken to my first wife a single time. The whole week I was just nonstop work and expecting to come home to her and dinner that evening. And I walked into an empty house, probably. And on the kitchen table was a note from my spouse that said, this isn’t working. I think we need to get a divorce. I can’t take this. And that moment, the very first thing that I did well, first, fall on the floor and start crying. That was the very first thing. But the next thing I did was I picked up my cell phone and I called my sister. And the reason I’m telling you this is because that moment represents the first time as an adult that I actually told somebody the truth about what was going on in my life. My marriage had been struggling for a long time. Things at home were not good and I had managed to convince myself and the world around me that everything was fine and just manage this situation. And the truth is, I was broken inside my home. Life was a wreck and nothing was working. And I called my sister and I told her the truth. And I really do believe that that’s one of the most important things that happened that started the journey to recovery was I stopped keeping secrets from myself and the people who loved me and deserved and wanted to be a part of helping me in this journey called life. And I let people in, stopped being the hero and the lone wolf, which was clearly not working. That was the first thing. I just let people into my life for the first time. And it was really hard, but it was really important.

[08:34] Bobbi: It’s very hard. I think it’s really an act of courage to do. Yeah. So how did people respond?

[08:48] Zach: Well, of course, the fearful part of my lizard brain was thinking, they’re going to all say, zach, we told you you never should have married that girl. We told you you should have been more attentive to X, Y and Z. Why have you not been as faithful with going to church and doing the things you need to be doing and keeping your life on? All of that was what I was afraid of. And the truth is, Bobbi, none of that happened. Zero. It was the most welcoming, loving experience you could know, in a way, sharing the burden, right. Just deep sorrow and grief in their own heart for what I was going through the immediate desire to help in any way possible. Yeah. Just such an immense wave of love. And when you realize that that’s how the people who love you want to show up for you, they’re just, in a way, almost hungry for the opportunity. Not, of course, for you to suffer, but if you are to be able to be there, it’s such a joy. I mean, think about how you’d want to be there for someone else. It’s like they wanted to do that for me and yeah, it was everything you hope for and none of what you’re afraid of.

[09:59] Bobbi: Yeah. It’s kind of amazing how that can be, but yet so many people, we are afraid of it telling the truth that way. So other than that, what were some of the key things that you’ve learned as part of your I think you called it your recovery and your upward spiral. Let’s call it that.

[10:17] Zach: Yeah. Is this the eight hour podcast episode or the.

[10:23] Bobbi: Just some keys there there’s so much, though, right?

[10:27] Zach: There is a lot to unpack. There’s a lot to unpack. But let me bring it down to the most important things. First thing was breaking down that wall, letting people in, telling the truth. The second thing, that’s the cousin it’s the very next step from that is telling the truth by itself is powerful, but then asking for help and seeking the help you need, humbling yourself to say, I need help and go get it. Ask for help until you receive it. That was phase two. And so that, for me, looked like going to see a counselor, a psychotherapist, to work through the grief and that shame and that embarrassment that I was dealing with. It looked like reaching out to my pastor and saying, hey, I want to really get reconnected in my faith and so hold me accountable. I want to be here. I want to be a part of this. Asking my family for some time to come visit them and just be in a different environment, asking my mom for an extra set of silverware so I could eat in my new apartment, all these little things. But that was step two, is go ask for help. Because, frankly, there’s times to give and there’s times to be open to receiving. And when you’re in a rock bottom place or if you’re go, go cash in, it’s time to ask for help because you can’t give what you don’t have. And in that moment, Bobbi, I didn’t have anything to give. So that would be the second most important shift that I made. And then the third thing is a concept that I now coach with my clients. When you’re overwhelmed, when there’s this massive problem to solve in life, and it just feels like there’s no way I can recover from this. I went from here on cloud nine, coming out of college, everything being great, to here at rock bottom how can I ever recover all of that? And our tendency is to look at the whole thing, which is extremely overwhelming, and there’s no way you’re going to solve it in one move. And so it can be paralyzing. And so the third thing that I learned, and now am really adamant in coaching my clients, is, let’s draw smaller circles. Let’s zoom in on just the next right thing. What is that simplest, easiest, like, right now, today action that I can take, that I have the energy and the wherewithal to take right now, just that next thing, let’s get that one right and give myself permission to let the rest fall where it may. I’ll get to that when I get to that. And when you really tighten those circles and just say, hey, can I get today right? I want to make today the best it can be. Can I get this next hour right? What’s the thing I need to focus on for this next hour? Draw the smallest circle you need to draw. I mean, there’s no shame in saying, I just need to make it through this next hour, and then I can reassess that pattern helped me to start getting momentum again, to start moving the right direction. And once you’re moving, once you feel that sense of progress, once you get a little energy back and some pep in your step again and a few things start going your way, we can start extending that time horizon again and saying, okay, well, what next month might matter, or next quarter might matter, or next year is a part of my vision. But when you’re in a crisis mode or overwhelmed, forget about your ten year vision or your goals next year. It’s not important right now. Smaller circles, next right thing.

[13:56] Bobbi: Yeah, I love that because I think, like, the ten year vision, like you say, when you’re in crisis of some sort, not only does it not matter, it’s demotivating. It’s like, I can’t even think about what that might be exactly when you were talking there. What it reminds me of is I love road cycling, and we spend a good part of the year in Colorado and the Rockies, and people will often ask me, like, why in the world how do you do that when you’re going up a mountain pass? Because it’s steep and it’s long. And the thing is, you can’t look from where you are. You cannot look too far ahead when it’s really steep. Like, I will pick a spot ten yards, 20 yards up ahead, and I’m like, I’m cycling till I get there. I’ll worry about what’s next after that, because if you look at the whole thing, you’re like, I can’t do it, but you can do it. It’s breaking it down, and that creates that momentum. So I love that. I love that. Do you find that your clients, how do they receive that? The smaller circle idea?

[15:04] Zach: Good example of this. I’ve got a client right now named Jim, an amazing leader. And when we first met, he was really struggling to find a new role. He had been laid off. It’s been a tough time for engineers and people in technology, software in particular. He’d been laid off, and it had been several months of hustling, hustling, hustling not able to find a role. And he was burning out on the process of just looking for a job. So we mostly talk about burnout. You’re working too many hours in your job. Well, you can burn out when you’re unemployed just as easily as when you are employed. And we started working together, and what was amazing, Bobbi, is in just a few weeks time, jim landed a new position that he was super excited about, really aligned with some of his strengths. And he was on cloud nine, right? It’s great. Well, shortly after, a couple things in his personal life went sideways. Totally unexpected, you could never plan for. And so suddenly, while he’s really happy to have landed this new position, look at what’s happening in his life now. He’s onboarding to a new manager position, meeting a new team, expected to hire some new engineers. Oh, and by the way, there’s some challenge in the family, personal things going on and needs to relocate. He’s going to move with his family and go and move into a new house. All this happening at the same time, that’s overwhelming. This is a really tough situation. And so Jim and I had the smaller circles conversation, said, hey, look, first thing, let’s not forget to celebrate all of the wins that you’ve accomplished in just the last few weeks to get to this moment. It’s so easy to forget about everything that’s gone well in your journey, because right this moment, all we can see is the crisis in front of us. So let’s just pause for a second and celebrate how far you’ve come. Next thing, let’s not worry about you being a senior manager or director of engineering. Let’s not worry about getting all of those people hired. Let’s talk about what your family needs this week and what your team at work needs this week and what Jim needs today. Right, that’s it. Let’s keep it that simple. And to your point, how do they receive it? Well, there’s an initial pushback of the engineer inside of us because we’re planners.

[17:16] Bobbi: That’s right.

[17:17] Zach: We’re project managers, and in many ways does not feel good to ignore. I’ll use that word, air quotes, so to speak, ignore all of what’s ahead because, well, don’t I need to plan every step? Don’t I need to connect all the dots? And it’s irresponsible of me to not think about those things. But the reminder is, look, when you think about something in the future, imagine it’s like you’re using this precious limited energy, your mental energy, and you’re sending it to a point in the future that you have no influence over today. You can’t change it. You can’t manipulate a year from now. You can’t manipulate a week from now. The only point where you have any power in time is the present. And just said, Jim, let’s just be engineers for a moment. If the only point you have power is in the present, where do we want to apply the most power? When you’re in a crisis, it’s in the present. So let’s stop thinking about the future where you have no power or going into the past of maybe what got us here, a mistake I made. Or a lot of times, engineers replay those negative tapes of self talk lots of people can relate to, well, I have no power in the past to change the past. I have power right now. And when you talk about it that way, it just makes sense. It’s logical. So now it takes some of that emotion out of it, like, this is irresponsible, or this is not me at my best. It’s like, no, this is you at your best where it counts right now. And when we’re back on track, then we can afford to spend some energy on the future and planning, but until then, don’t worry about it. And it’s been really effective for Jim.

[18:58] Bobbi: Yeah, I can see where it would be, and I’m a huge fan of that. You mentioned burnout, and I don’t know some of the correspondence back and forth from you. I saw something like the real cause of burnout because it was a little surprising. Do you want to share that?

[19:18] Zach: Yeah, 100%. So there’s two things about Burnout everyone needs to know, and I learned these the hard way. So don’t wait until you end up at rock bottom to take this to heart. The first thing is that we always associate burnout with that moment when we literally hit the end of our rope, the rock bottom moment, the flame out, the glorious big thing that we all talk about, like, oh, this was so bad. But you got to back up, because burnout is not just the rock bottom experience. Burnout begins the moment that you’re burning fuel faster than you’re filling the tank. It’s a trajectory problem, not a magnitude problem. So ask yourself today, how would I rate pick an area of your life my career, my business, my marriage, my relationships, my health today versus 90 days ago. How would I rate my energy today versus 90 days ago, my happiness today versus 90 days ago. And if the answer is worse, then you’re already on the road to burnout, and we need to pay attention to that. Like, we’re getting signals way before rock bottom. So that’s point number one is burnout starts way before the moment we all talk about. That is, quote unquote, burnout.

[20:40] Bobbi: Right. That’s great.

[20:42] Zach: And then the cause for me, I would have told you, Bobbi, it’s because I was at the factory working those 80 hours weeks. Bobbi it’s because I only had one strategy. It was to get smarter and use my intelligence, and I needed more EQ, not IQ. Bobbi I would tell you everything that I was doing that I felt like it wasn’t working. But the truth is that burnout is not primarily caused by what you’re doing. Burnout can be accelerated by what you’re doing. Don’t get me wrong. If you’re burning the candle on both ends, if you’re completely ignoring your intimate relationship, those things can accelerate burnout, but they’re not the cause. The primary cause of burnout is what you’re not doing.

[21:25] Bobbi: Yeah, that was intriguing. Tell me more about that.

[21:29] Zach: It’s what’s happening between the lines that is no longer part of your life that leads to burnout. So I’ll give you the example, Bobbi. You start to feel a little bit unhappy with your career, and you’re like, Well, I want to accelerate this. I want to make sure that I get that next promotion. So I’m going to put in a few extra hours this weekend to make sure and get ahead on the project. Okay, cool. Great. Well, what you don’t realize is that the decision to work the extra hours just eliminated the time that you spend with your loved ones on the weekend that used to fill your tank. Okay, minor thing if you do it one time, but then it becomes a pattern, and suddenly time with loved ones is no longer on your calendar. Well, the next thing that goes is, oh, you’re traveling more because you’re raising your hand for all those tough assignments, or you’re in sales, and you decide to go on the road and really hit it hard, and you start eating fast food instead of taking the time to prep healthy meals or eat healthy food. And so suddenly your nutrition drops. And what was keeping you healthy and eating well and taking time to sleep and your exercise and these things that are good for your body? Well, you stop doing all that stuff, and you see, you look at your life, and here you are two years later, and you’re not sleeping well. You’re not eating well. You’re not taking care of your intimate relationship. You’re not spending time with friends who love you and cherish you. And it’s like all the things that kept your life in healthy balance are no longer on the calendar. That’s the cause. Working long hours doesn’t burn you out. I work very long hours as an entrepreneur now, and I love it, but I’m very intentional to keep the things in my life that keep me healthy and balanced and to respond quickly if I notice that downward trajectory at all. Yeah, so this is the key, is you got to ask a different question. It’s not what am I doing that’s causing burnout? It’s what have I stopped doing that keeps me healthy, whole, and balanced? That’s the key. Question.

[23:27] Bobbi: That is so spot on. It’s just so spot on. It made me think about he’s a former client of mine and very busy sales manager, extraordinarily busy sales manager, single father, devoted to his son, very devoted to his family, his extended family. This guy is so freaking busy. Like so busy. But when you talk to him, he’s energized. He’s excited because he’s so connected to everything he’s doing, and everything he’s doing some way feeds him. And it’s like I look at him and I’m like, you would think if anybody’s going to be burnt out, it’d be this guy. And he’s not. And I think that’s why, because he’s being fed. He’s refueling along the way. So is that something that you help your clients with?

[24:18] Zach: Oh, for sure.

[24:19] Bobbi: Okay.

[24:20] Zach: We talk in big ways about the whole picture. Folks come to me because they want to accelerate their career. And my message back to them on day one is, look, if we’re even going to think about working together, we need to get clear on a goal that I have for you and for all of my clients. And it’s really, really simple. Our goal is to get you to the next level, to get you to your dream career as quickly as possible, but to do it in a way that does not sacrifice your balance, your life, that we don’t suffer burnout along the way. You’re a whole person, and this is a whole person conversation. So if you only want to talk about your career, then you’re in the wrong place. I’m not the coach for you because we’re going to accelerate your career by accelerating your life. And if that’s not how you want to do it, no judgment for that. But you’re not going to like our approach because we’ve seen it time and time and time again that many times. Working less, investing more time into these other areas that are off track. Letting that feedback into more energy, more passion, more sense of purpose in your career, then is what ignites that future growth. And people don’t always want to do that because frankly, Bobbi, it’s harder. It’s the harder work, really is. Yeah. I mean, let me rephrase it. Maybe not harder. Maybe the word I should say is it’s uncomfortable.

[25:43] Bobbi: It’s uncomfortable.

[25:44] Zach: It’s the uncomfortable work. It takes more courage to confess and be vulnerable that well, you know what? I’m not actually taking care of my intimate relationship. I’m not actually showing up at my best for my kids. I’m not actually honoring my health. Those are tougher conversations for the typical engineer when we want to come in and be seen as very intelligent. And that was me, for sure. And I have just such deep compassion and sense of empathy toward that because I’ve been there. I totally get it.

[26:14] Bobbi: Right.

[26:14] Zach: But it’s a much more fulfilling path to bring your whole life along for the ride than to just focus in one area.

[26:23] Bobbi: And it’s interesting because happiness researchers and what we know is that people who you can be successful and not be happy, but what we also know is that people who are happier tend to be more successful from the research. So that completely makes sense to me because it kind of seems maybe counterintuitive when you say to someone, oh, work less, because our culture is like, do more, do more, grind harder. So is that counterintuitive? How hard is it for people to get that?

[27:00] Zach: It is extraordinarily counterintuitive, but that’s only because of the cultural conditioning we’ve been given. And as soon as we get into a real dialogue about what’s going on and peel those layers back, it becomes very intuitive. And so to take what might be hours and hours of coaching into just 30 seconds, imagine, Bobbi, I came to you and said, hey, will you please help me get a promotion? I’ve been passed over three times. I really want to make it to that next level. I really want to be able to provide for my family and be able to go on bigger vacations and not have to worry about money all the time and retire early. And all these things matter to me. So help me get that promotion. Can you help me do that? Just take one moment and say, well, Zach, what is it about the promotion, really, that matters to why? Why bother? Why go get a promotion? What is the big deal? You know, I know that I’m capable of more. I want to get there. Okay, cool, but why does that know? And we go, and we go, we go. And suddenly at some root level, Bobbi, everyone has it. We find the thing. We find the things like, you know, Zach or Bobbi, I just want to wake up and love my work again. I just want to feel like a great husband and like, I’m taking care of my family at the highest possible level. I want my kids to have it better than I did. We get to the real reason, and then it’s like, okay, interesting. So let’s say you mentioned happiness. I just want to be happy. I want to love my career and be happy. If I am not able to experience happiness now in the career that I have, what business do I have thinking that I’ll be happy with a $20,000 promotion, especially when I’m an engineer who already makes 150 grand a year? Does making 180 or 190 really matter? It’s like, okay, maybe we’re going on a little bit nicer vacation. But the fact is, and you’ve mentioned the research supports this if I don’t know how to be happy now, if I don’t have the courage to be happy now, I won’t have it after that promotion either. My coach tells me, Bobbi, Zach, wherever you go, there you are.

[29:16] Bobbi: That’s right.

[29:17] Zach: So if you don’t change, it won’t matter what happens. In the environment around you, you’re going to experience those same negative emotions and same problems, and you’ll create that same unhappiness around you again.

[29:28] Bobbi: That’s right.

[29:28] Zach: And so when you get to that truth with somebody, suddenly they realize, oh, yeah, I better do that inner work now before I just go crazy trying to change my outer world. Because at the end of the day, an inside out transformation is one that will last an outside in. It’s that honeymoon phase. It’s that feel good sugar rush, but it always fades, and you go right back to ground zero or wherever you were before. And unfortunately, that’s why a lot of people are frustrated with coaching, because they’re not getting that right direction. There’s so many coaches who maybe ended up there and probably didn’t belong there, and it’s like, no, we got to do the deeper work.

[30:08] Bobbi: You got to do the deeper work. It’s all the inner game stuff. It really is the inner game 100%.

[30:14] Zach: Just like you talk about on this show all the time, Bobbi. If you don’t master the inner game, then the actions in the outer game doesn’t matter.

[30:20] Bobbi: They don’t. But it’s so easy to think, well, if I just do X, if I just learn this skill, whatever, and it’s like, no, another thing you’re talking about with the happiness, the I’ll be happy, when that is like, one of the biggest traps and especially high achievers. We are incredibly vulnerable to that. But then what happens? I can’t even tell you. Over the years, I’ve worked with some really top salespeople over the years. And not always, but many, many times they’ll say to me, why can’t I celebrate my success? Or this one. I always move the goalpost on myself, but it’s that same version of I’ll be happy and I get the promotion, and then you get the promotion, and then what’s next? The next promotion.

[31:02] Zach: Right. How long does that happiness of getting the promotion last? For some of my clients, it’s like not even a week. Maybe it’s a couple of days, if that. Because suddenly you’ve got new responsibilities and new challenges and new things to worry about, and it’s like they’re freaking out about all the responsibility of the new promotion. 100% true.

[31:22] Bobbi: Yeah. Okay, so I see that one of your books on the shelf behind you is Drive. That’s one of my very favorite books. And he talks about it in there that a raise is just a raise for 30 days, and then it’s your salary, and we go right back. That’s right back. So with the inner game work that you’re talking about, what are some of the and I know this could be another 8 hours, but what are one or two of the most important things that you help your clients work on there?

[31:55] Zach: I’ll tell you about a shift that came in. One of my absolute great friends and a former client named Mauricio Mauricio came to me, our first conversation. He was very open, and I share this publicly because he has shared the story in a video on our website and gave me permission to tell this. But he was in a really dark place. His career was off track. He was frustrated. He felt stuck, didn’t know how to get to the next level, was really unhappy at work all the time. That sense of dread that comes on Sunday afternoon, like, I can’t believe the week’s about to start again. And that was spilling into his personal life. His marriage was in a really tough place. His wife was thinking about going back to Brazil and just a lot of things going on for him. And he said, hey, I really need to get this under control. Can you help me? And to Mauricio’s credit, he had the courage to step into this knowing that there is no guarantee that this is going to change his life if he doesn’t show up and do the work. It’s not like I can wave the magic wand. Well, as we were working together, he got to one of our early coaching modules around Purpose, and we do some incredibly deep work around Core Values and Understanding Your Life Purpose, which for most people, they think isn’t that. Like you got to go be a monk and sit in Tibet for five years. And the meaning of life? You spend the rest of your life trying to figure that out. It’s like, yeah, sure, okay, there’s some interesting truths to this idea that it’ll be a lifelong pursuit, but the fact is, you have inside you right now more clarity on your purpose in life than you know. And if you’ll just learn how to find it, it’s a really rewarding thing. And in Mauricio’s words, it was like a light turned on for him when he tapped that sense of purpose. In one moment, he felt lost and confused and uncertain about his life. And literally the next moment, he had this sense of clarity about why all that was happening for him, what he could take action on right now, to shift it at work today, and how he wanted to show up at home for his spouse and in his life. And he literally, in a few weeks time after that, turned everything around just from this peeling back of the layers and discovering, why am I really here and what do I value the most at a core level? And we call that your compass. The purpose being your North Star, and these values being the points on the compass that guides your life. And when he stepped into the next day with the compass, instead of just feeling lost is like, everything changed. I think he said my relationships improved a thousand percent. I had clarity on where I wanted to go. He landed a huge promotion at Meta, a dream job for him. Everything shifted in just weeks. And that’s an example of the type of when we say inner work, most people say, Zach, seriously, like core values, life, purpose, that’s going to get me a promotion. This has nothing to do with my career. And I just push back and say, no, it’s the exact opposite has everything to do with your career. Because what you don’t realize is those things are driving you subconsciously and you just don’t know it. And because of the rules that you’ve established for yourself subconsciously, you’ve created a no win situation in your life. And if we can uncover that and rewrite the rules of the game in a way that you can win tomorrow, it’s a whole new life and it really can be that fast. And so I love it. I mean, that’s just one example of many. But I think people don’t often believe it’s possible for them. I’ll just tell you it absolutely is possible for you.

[35:35] Bobbi: It is possible. So with the purpose, with Mauricio and if you can’t share that’s okay. Sometimes I think people think that purpose has to be this know, big purpose. And sometimes I think purpose can be just something that guides us at a very instinctive level. What was it for Mauricio?

[36:00] Zach: Yeah, well, the exercise that we do that culminates to this sort of AHA moment is pretty deep and we create a beautiful metaphor around what it is so that there’s something more emotional and a deeper connection to it. But it really for Maisio, boiled down to a single word being useful. Being useful. Which again, to your point, like what a simple statement, right? But what he realized was that he had walked away from showing up as a manager at work in a way that was designed to just give and be a servant and be useful to his team and to the company and to the projects that mattered. And he literally just showed up the next day and asked himself how can I be useful today? How can I be useful in this conversation? How can I be useful on this project? How can I be useful in the strategic planning meeting next week? How can I be useful for my spouse tonight? How can I be useful for my daughter here at home? And just that simple question for him and then framed around this really deep meaning of why that matters to him. Yeah, that’s all it took.

[37:06] Bobbi: That’s all. I love that. I love that because I think so many times purposes, there’s some confusion around it. So I love that because that just guides everything you do in that, you know, I love that.

[37:23] Zach: Bobbi I describe this as there’s a difference between living on with a capital, like not just intentionally. Intention is great, everybody talks about intention. But on your like if there’s a bullseye of your purpose for life when you’re on that place that life feels different than a life off purpose, which is drifting without intention. Yes, but also you could be on intention but off your purpose. It’s an intention someone else gave you. It’s an intention your parents told you you’re supposed to have. The company said you’re supposed to have. Culture said you’re supposed to have. And so living life on your purpose is awesome.

[38:08] Bobbi: It’s so powerful. It’s so powerful. So another question I wanted to ask you real quick is you talked about in some of the collateral I saw mastering your mindset, which of course is a favorite of mine. And you wrote that the right strategy or the right strategy and right action will not work with the wrong mindset or the wrong energy. Can you tell me a little bit more?

[38:34] Zach: I’ll use an example from my failures. So specifically in marriage and anybody who’s in an intimate relationship or has a partner of any kind, girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, doesn’t matter, let’s take the same strategy. So what’s a strategy, right? It might be or a tactic. Here I’m going to say some words. I’m going to use my voice. I’m going to speak words. That’s a strategy. And the tactic is going to be I’ll use the sentence, what did you do that for? That’s the sentence. Okay, so I’ve got a strategy and a tactic. I’m going to use my voice to communicate. That’s the strategy and the tactic is the sentence. What did you do that for? Well, now I’m going to approach this with two different mindsets. Mindset one, you are such an idiot. I cannot believe that you did that. You clearly don’t listen. And what was I thinking marrying you? Let’s just imagine that’s the mindset that I bring into the moment, how do you think I’m going to deliver that sentence? What did you do that for? Yeah, that’s right. Angry. I’m frustrated. The tone changes, the energy shifts. I’m attacking you. I don’t believe in you. I don’t love you. In that moment. Mindset number two, we all make mistakes. I deeply love you and care about you. I want what’s best for you. I’m going to assume positive intent in you. I am curious to know what actually happened here. I probably don’t know the whole story. And I want to seek clarity and to resolve this in a way that respects you. Okay. That mindset is going to deliver completely differently. Hey, honey, what did you do that for? It’s like two same strategy and tactic, two completely different mindsets and energies. People don’t realize, like what I just gave in. That little example is happening to you all day every day. And most folks don’t even know what their mindset is, let alone how to change it.

[40:30] Bobbi: No. And the whole thing around assume positive intent. Like if we just did that one.

[40:36] Zach: Thing, powerful mindset shift, no question. So now just copy paste this if you’re in sales, if your mindset is I’m afraid they’re going to reject me. I don’t know if my product is worth the price. This is a scary situation. I’ve failed at the last ten sales meetings. This is going to be so difficult versus we have the best product in the market. They are crazy not to buy it mindset. If you’re at an interview and you’re thinking, I don’t know if I have what it takes to get this, oh, I always bomb interviews. I suck at interviews. I’m so scared to go into this interview. I hope they don’t notice XYZ on my resume versus they’d be crazy not to hire me. I’m the perfect fit for this job. I’m the obvious first choice. Let’s go. I’m ready to start tomorrow. These things show up in every area.

[41:24] Bobbi: Of your life, every single one. Wow. Love that. So let’s shift a little bit. You started your company name is Oasis of Courage. So why that name?

[41:44] Zach: It relates to my own life purpose and a belief that I hold about why this work is so important as a coach. So my purpose statement is very simple. It reads that I am an oasis along life’s journey that gives you the courage to walk on. And for me to show up in the world as a source of encouragement, to place courage into someone else, to encourage might be the most important word in the English language in my book. For me to bring courage from my life and impart that into your life so that you can take one more step forward towards your dreams, towards your goals, toward your vision. To me, there’s no greater feeling than to do that, and that’s what I live for every single day. So that’s the real core reason of choosing that verbiage of Oasis of Courage, is because that’s my life purpose. So as CEO of this business, I wanted to bring that to life in a very real way. But the belief that I hold and why that purpose is so important to me is that truthfully. Everything we’ve talked about today, everything that holds us back from the life we really want, is fear.

[42:58] Bobbi: Yeah.

[42:59] Zach: Fear has a thousand faces. It’s stress, it’s overwhelm, it’s discomfort, it’s fill in the blank. We have all of our own words that we use to justify what’s going on in our life. But the fact is, when you peel all those layers back, at some level, we’re afraid. And it takes courage to show up to your life and do the inner work that we’ve been talking about and take action that’s scary and may fail, and to say, I’m going to keep going anyway, I’m going to face fear and do it anyway. So to me, there’s no greater thing to call ourselves to than to live a life of courage, because if you don’t, you won’t grow, you won’t get to your goals. Just full stop. For me, fear is going to greet you at the door every day when you wake up. And if you don’t have the courage to step past it, you’re stuck right where you’re at.

[43:48] Bobbi: Yeah, and I think I totally agree, even you were talking about the mindset for salespeople, right? Like, oh, I bombed the last one, or whatever. That’s a form of fear, right?

[44:03] Zach: Exactly.

[44:04] Bobbi: And it’s so interesting to me. People beat themselves up when they feel fear because they’re like, oh, well, I shouldn’t feel fear. I’m the only one that feels it. It’s like, no, everyone feels fear at some time, at some point, but you just have to decide to keep going. And I love how you put it. It takes courage to show up for your life. That’s awesome.

[44:24] Zach: Totally. Bobbi if I walk into the gym and I look at that 35 pound dumbbell and today I can’t curl it, I’m not strong enough to curl it. I can barely even pick it up off the rack. Luckily, that’s not true for me. But let’s just imagine that’s the situation. I can’t even well, if I was to say, you know what, I’m just going to keep going to the gym and keep hoping that that 35 pound dumbbell gets lighter, that the burden of my life gets easier, that’s what I’m hoping for. That’s pretty foolish, because the fact is it’s a 35 pound dumbbell. It’s going to be 35 pounds every single time I go to the gym. So stop wishing your life would get easier and start wishing that you would get stronger, because that’s the path to the life of your dreams. Fear doesn’t go away and it doesn’t get lighter. You get stronger and become more courageous. End of story. That’s right. I don’t really have any other way to say that. I don’t mean to discourage people by saying that, and hopefully it doesn’t cause that, but it’s just that call to like, look, you got to step up if you want to create something better in your life. It takes courage.

[45:31] Bobbi: It takes courage, absolutely. I love the way you put it. So with that perfect way to end that part of it, tell us a little bit about where people can find you, how can they follow you, all that kind of stuff.

[45:44] Zach: Well, if this conversation sparks an interest and you want to know more about Zach White and what I do as a coach, the easiest way to just get to know me is on my podcast. So wherever you’re listening to this incredible show, just jump over. It’s called the Happy Engineer. Give that a search subscribe or follow the podcast. There’s a lot of content related to all of these topics, and while I do focus on Stem and engineering professionals and careers and businesses for my coaching, the content is really amazing for everyone. But if you are an engineering professional and you know this is something you need to take action on, you want to go further with it. Just as a thank you for listening to this awesome show and supporting Bobbi and unyielded, I’d love to give a free coaching session to anyone who needs help. So if that’s something that interests you, just grab your phone if you’re in the US and you can text the word lifestyle, just that one word, lifestyle, to the number 55444. And if you do that, we’ll send you a quick link to grab 15 minutes with our team. We’re going to audit where you’re at, see if it’s a fit for us to support you. And if we can, we’ll get you a free 75 minutes coaching session, build a roadmap for you, and it will be a life changing conversation, so feel free to take advantage of that if, you know, you want help building your career and becoming a lifestyle engineer.

[47:03] Bobbi: Nice. I love that. And thank you for offering that for so, Zach, thank you so much for joining and for sharing all this. I loved it. I think it’ll help a lot of people and that’s what we’re here for.

[47:16] Zach: Bobbi, your show is amazing and everything you bring so valuable. So thank you for the chance to be a part of it. And I just wish you and all of your listeners incredible success in doing that inner work and winning the inner game.

[47:29] Bobbi: I hope that you had a lot of good takeaways and insights. I know that I did. My notebook is full right now. If you know of someone who might be struggling with burnout or is on the road to Burnout, this could be a really great episode to share with them because it might be just the message that they need to hear. I appreciate you and I hope that you have a terrific week and that you keep thriving. Don’t but.

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