Published on October 28th, 2013 | by Jam Slanders0
Photo by O'Durgy, Image by Veronica Scars, Skater Trix Ann Riots
Ask Jam Slanders: How to Extinguish My Burnout
You’ve always got a reason why you shouldn’t change your role in derby, right? It’s never a good time to “leave” and transition to “just” skating, announcing, officiating, or…living…because there’s always that next event or that last job, or THE GUILT. I have skated for only a few years and love the sport, but having served in leadership…I feel done, used up, and bitter. I remember a seminar once where she said something along the lines of, “Remember to reroute your burned out leaders to something where they are happy, so you can KEEP them.” What if your league is too small for rerouting? How do you or where do you decide to change your role without feeling crappy?
Need New Wheels
One of Jam’s leaguemates came to her with a similar dilemma. Being the generous, lovely soul that she is, she had eagerly volunteered for a burdensome position despite a long, hardworking history of league service. A couple of months in, she was caught in the same trap. She started talking about retirement, and when I asked her why, she confessed it wasn’t skating, but the stress from the league position.
I told her that as her teammate, while I was grateful for her contribution to the league business, I needed her on skates. I needed her on skates AND happy with derby.
Yes, derby requires everyone to contribute. However, even in a small league, too often the burden of the work is in the hands of the few. You need to start to delegate tasks. Make sure your league has something in place to compel everyone to help out with league business (e.g., service hours). If that info is public, try specifically hounding people who aren’t helping out (otherwise, ask whoever is in charge of tracking). It’s easy for many people to ignore a non-specific plea for someone to help, but it’s harder to turn down someone asking you face-to-face at practice whether you can help out on a specific task. Getting some things off your plate will be the first step in giving yourself some breathing room.
Delegation can be easier said than done. An issue with long-term leadership: we think the world will collapse without us. We fear that no one can take our place and do as good a job as we did. Sometimes that will be true; sometimes someone will step up and surprise you. You need to reframe your thinking, though: can someone perform the duties of your job, even if they aren’t going to be as rockstar as you were? More than likely the answer is yes. It’s difficult, but if you are going to step down you have to let go a bit.
This brings up another issue when it comes to transitions in league positions. Too often, someone has been with the league since day one, and when they quit or leave the position, the next person is in the fog. This then means that the person who quit gets pestered all the time, or the person who steps up is completely lost.
When it comes to stepping down, have a plan. Given your options are few, handpick a successor and have that person work closely with you during the last part of your term—cc: them on all the emails. Document everything. Timelines are really helpful. With some positions this can be a calendar (e.g., what needs to get done in Jan, Feb, Mar) and some positions it will be relative (e.g., two months before the bout, six weeks before the bout). Don’t assume that someone knows how it works just because you’ve been doing it the same way for x years—they’ve probably just gotten used to how smoothly you handle everything.
Then, don’t micromanage. It is unlikely that your successor will do everything exactly the way you did. So, unless they are setting themselves up for a major fail, let it go. They’re having people post information to the team forum rather than filling out that convenient and efficient Google Doc you created? So what. Let it go. They want to redesign the flyers after it took you two years to get them looking the way you wanted? So what. Let it go. Don’t feel bad and don’t meddle. Going forward, your new job will be learning to stay out of it so that you can enjoy skating again.
If all else fails and you still can’t separate, your last ditch effort should be taking a brief leave of absence from the league—say, 2-3 months. Your league will have to figure it out, and you can take some time to cope with the guilt without having to look at everyone and feel shitty every day. I know this sounds completely insane, but if the only alternative is quitting forever, then the LOA might be what it takes to save your derby career.
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