At times of crisis or perpetual struggle, people working as part of initiatives to counter the effects on the community often deal with intense periods of heightened emotions and stress. People tend to leave projects and the initiatives as a result of ‘burnout’ – feeling too burdened with the toll that working with a certain issue takes. This is a normal and happens quite often with organizations and initiatives as they see enthusiasm disappearing among the team and even numbers of volunteers dropping over time.

Youssef Shoufan from La Maison de Syrie talks about his personal experience with burnout and frustration after putting so much time and energy into the project.

Video Transcript

Jai Sen describes the burnout and the toll he had experienced throughout his activism especially as being part of building the “national campaign for housing rights” in India that fought for policy change. He talks about the importance of acknowledging failure as part of the process for any group or initiative.

Video Transcript

The success stories of groups and initiatives are usually highly publicized and shown, leaving behind the many failures and attempts taken to reach that success. This builds an image that success is automatic and if failure does occur, then that alone can put an end to the initiatives. Rather than see success as a continuous effort overcoming failures and challenges, the either/or vision further burdens the team and adds more frustration.

In your e-Portfolio, answer the following questions:

  • How would you prepare for burnout and failure?
  • What would be the point in which a failure ends the initiative? And how would you tackle that?
  • When working in teams, how would you ensure that the team members are well equipped to deal with burnout?
  • Can you think of certain guidelines or tactics that might help the team and yourself in stressful situations?