April Ervin is the Managing Partner and “Chief Peace Officer” of Sustainable Leadership, LLC. As a consultant tasked with the crucial role of battling burnout, instilling peace, and encouraging resilience, Ervin understands all too well how important self-acceptance, communication, and drive are for success and empowerment as a company or a leader. As Ervin states, “There are specific strategies we can implement to have greater balance in our lives and improve our overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. However, to sustain those strategies, we must take time for introspection to understand how we got to a place of prolonged stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. We must first know why we pushed ourselves beyond our limits to determine how to overcome this issue in the future.”
Ervin proudly refers to herself as an ‘encourager and epitome of resilience.’ When looking at her background and successes, it’s no secret why. This strong and inspiring leader has faced life challenges with grace and uses her journey of transformation to transform the lives of others.
However, even Ervin isn’t immune to burnout—and this is why she recommends prioritizing your own mental, emotional, and physical health in order to succeed and not lose yourself in the process, “To ‘practice what I preach,’ I periodically do what I guide my clients to do. I take a ‘strategic pause.’ I utilize The Burnout FactorTM Burnout Prevention Strategy: Stop, Rest, Reflect, and Recalibrate…I take a few weeks to stop the overdoing and overscheduling. I take time for rest and reflection. I am then able to recalibrate my personal and professional life from a place of clarity. Core to doing this is being willing to ask for help and allowing others to do for me so that I can focus on my own mental, emotional, and physical well-being.”
Ervin believes this is the key to real sustainability in the professional and personal lives of women. As she explains, “As women, we are innate caregivers at home and at work. I always say what we do personally we do professionally, and what we do professionally we do personally. We are superwomen, super multi-taskers, and often carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. This is often modeled in the workplace as the ideal for career achievement. But as I always say, ‘Superwoman is a myth. She does not exist.’ We must realize we do not need to push ourselves beyond our limits for the sake of success. We must prioritize our own mental, emotional, and physical well-being and support our teams in doing the same. That will allow us to have real sustainability in our professional and personal lives.”
For now, Ervin is focused primarily on the launch of her signature online executive coaching program: “7-Weeks to Greater Peace.” According to her, “While I truly enjoy my one-on-one executive coaching, this program allows many more women to benefit from working with me on their journey towards greater peace and balance in their lives.”
What do you think is often overlooked as a key factor to burnout, and what role does our childhood play in it?
In the journey of overcoming burnout, one aspect that is often overlooked is getting to the roots of why we burnout in the first place. There are specific strategies we can implement to have greater balance in our lives and improve our overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. However, to sustain those strategies, we must take time for introspection to understand how we got to a place of prolonged stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. We must first know why we pushed ourselves beyond our limits to determine how to overcome this issue in the future.
I recently shared that my next blog post will be entitled, “No Longer Chasing ‘A’s.’” In my own journey of introspection, I realized I have been chasing “A’s” since the 3rd grade. I have been a Type A personality seeking high achievement and excellence in all aspects of my professional and personal life. However, I have done so seeking my own worthiness. Very early in life, my self-worth was validated by my achievements. This was formative development that projected for decades and impacted all aspects of my life.
In my declaration of no longer chasing ‘A’s,’ I affirm that my value and worth are less about what I do and what I achieve but more about who I am. To come to realize that I am enough no matter my achievements and accolades is a wonderful feeling. This is an issue many of my clients and the audiences I speak to grapple with as well. It is for this reason, core to my work is helping every woman truly know her value and her worth.
Often, we are great at giving advice but struggle with taking our own advice to heart. With that said, how does the burnout coach keep from burning out, and how can women in general ‘practice what they preach’ more effectively?
In full transparency, that has been a challenge for me. When serving our life purpose and loving what we do, it’s easy to push ourselves beyond our limits. I have found myself speaking to audiences and clients about things they should do to prevent burnout while I was not following my own advice. I often say I can’t help others not be burned out if I’m burned out!
To “practice what I preach,” I periodically do what I guide my clients to do. I take a “strategic pause.” I utilize The Burnout FactorTM Burnout Prevention Strategy: Stop, Rest, Reflect, and Recalibrate.
I take a few weeks to stop the overdoing and overscheduling. I take time for rest and reflection. I am then able to recalibrate my personal and professional life from a place of clarity. Core to doing this is being willing to ask for help and allowing others to do for me so that I can focus on my own mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I am grateful to take my own advice.
What has been the significance of narrowing your target audience in building your brand message?
I have been doing this work for more than 10 years. Over that time, I have worked with and supported a diversity of clients. While I have been grateful to be of service, it took me some time to hone in on my ideal client and target audience.
This lack of focus inhibited a consistent brand message. Today, I am very clear that I am called to serve executive women of faith battling burnout. I am still blessed to speak to a wide variety of audiences, serving men and women. And, I now know that I am specifically called to this group of women to help them overcome burnout.
How would you describe the standard for women in the workplace and what are you uniquely doing to redefine that standard for the better?
As women, we are innate caregivers at home and at work. I always say what we do personally we do professionally and what we do professionally we do personally. We are superwomen, super multi-taskers, and often carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. This is often modeled in the workplace as the ideal for career achievement. But as I always say, “Superwoman is a myth. She does not exist.”
In the workplace, we must realize that as we set healthy boundaries in our work and actively advocate for our own well-being, as leaders, we serve as examples for others to follow. We must realize we do not need to push ourselves beyond our limits for the sake of success. We must prioritize our own mental, emotional, and physical well-being and support our teams in doing the same. That will allow us to have real sustainability in our professional and personal lives.
What role does confidence play in the success of women, and how can they find their sense of confidence?
Confidence plays a significant role in all aspects of our lives. I have learned and helped my clients understand that true confidence comes from within. Again, we must know our own value and our worth. Many times, we look at the external to build our confidence. I challenge my clients to look at the internal in walking in confidence. True confidence comes from knowing that we are more than our titles, our salaries, and our roles in life. True confidence comes from knowing we are God’s perfect creation, that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
What advice do you wish someone would have told you that you believe is essential for women to get to the top?
As I developed in my own career trajectory, I wish someone would have told me that pushing myself to extreme limits would never be worth it. While I applaud career achievement, if we are not here to enjoy it, all of the hard work, long nights, and extensive travel would be for naught.
I wish I could have embraced the transformative power of doing less earlier in my career—to know that working smarter and not harder is not just a cliché, and that it is possible to do less and achieve more in our work and life. To do so requires greater focus and discipline. Vital to that discipline is periodic times for reflection to know the best next steps to take. To take time to step back before aggressively moving forward and assess my motives for seeking further career progression has helped me and those I teach exponentially.
Career burnout is far more common for women than it is for their male counterparts based on their personal and professional responsibilities. How can women balance/blend their work and life to reduce burnout?
It has been said more than once that men and women are very different. As the old saying goes, “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” I believe career burnout is far more common for women than men because of that natural caregiver within us. We are often responsible for far more at work and at home.
To balance/blend work and life to reduce burnout, we must be willing to ask for and receive help. One of my clients recently shared she was overwhelmed by work, the responsibilities of her children, and husband. When I encouraged her to seek additional support, her response was, “I’m not comfortable asking others for help.”
This is one aspect that must change in order to prevent burnout. We must be willing to be vulnerable and to know in that vulnerability we are not showing weakness, but showing true strength. It’s ok to receive support and help from others.
How can a well-defined purpose path help women to gain confidence and also reduce burnout in their positions?
I often say you know you have found your purpose when you find that one thing you could do all day and not get paid for (but yes, we must be well compensated despite that). Purpose is something that is innate, comes easily, and truly feeds our souls.
In Gay Hendricks’ book, “The Big Leap,” he talks about finding your “zone of genius.” He shares that we all have multiple zones: zone of incompetence, zone of competence, zone of excellence, and zone of genius. Our goal is to be in the genius zone 80% of the time.
When you are functioning in your zone of genius, you walk with much greater confidence. Most importantly, when you support those you lead to act in their zone of genius, you truly have an optimal team achieving at high levels.
How do you specifically coach women to have a sense of confidence and lead beyond burnout?
The unique way I coach women to have a sense of confidence and lead beyond burnout is to help them do their “inside-out” work. I work with my clients to reveal, heal, and transform. This refers to revealing barriers to their optimal well-being, healing from the inside out, and transforming areas impeding them from being their best self professionally and personally.
Do you have specific techniques for creating and maintaining boundaries between personal and professional lives?
Core to setting healthy boundaries is a willingness to use the shortest but often hardest words to say, “No.” We have to be willing to say ‘no’ so that we can say ‘yes’ to those things that are truly aligned with what we are called to do.
Another important area in setting boundaries is with technology. Many of my clients and myself struggle with this issue. We are far too accessible due to technology. One strategy I recommend is to remove all technology from the bedroom, especially our cell phones. Our bedrooms should be sanctuaries of rest. Technology actually impacts our sleep and circadian rhythm.
I recommend placing the cell phone in another part of the house at night and having a special ring that will only go off in an emergency. That is something very small that can pay large dividends and bless us with greater rest.
What strategies are working for you that you can share with our audience to succeed?
I would encourage your audience to take some time for reflection and redefine their definition of success. Success looks very different for each of us. Traditional perspectives may no longer be applicable. Specific strategies that work for many are establishing a set of daily disciplines and being conscious as to how you begin your day. Those disciplines can include breathwork, meditation, exercise, prayer, and journaling. It is in those disciplines that I have found the ability for myself and my clients to not only succeed but enjoy their success.
What project are you currently working on that makes you excited, and why?
I am excited to share that I have recently launched my signature online executive coaching program: “7-Weeks to Greater Peace.” The program is dedicated to supporting executive women battling burnout to improve their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. We are not meant to live in a constant state of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. This program provides tangible ways to overcome these issues. Through the program, I’ve taken more than 10 years of experience and compiled my best practices in a series of modules.
While I truly enjoy my one-on-one executive coaching, this program allows many more women to benefit from working with me on their journey towards greater peace and balance in their lives. Go to www.aprilervin.com to learn more.