At risk of burnout? Watch out for this 4 signals

If you are a busy entrepreneur, we need to talk about burnout.

Yes, I know we all have in mind that sort of “collapsing” scene that usually depicts it. You know, the one of a person that, after months of being completely unable to cope with the daily tasks, full of worries and responsibilities, feeling tired and not interested, in desperate need of sleep without being able to get any, finally collapses.

But this is the “final scene” of the movie.

Burnout is not something that suddenly happens, without warning.

It is a slow, cumulative process that, let me tell you, is more common than what you think.


So, what if tell you that there is a way to avoid burnout? What if I tell you that your body talks to you and that if you learn to understand its language, you might be able to prevent it?

Your brain is not only capable of recognising the first symptoms, but that it also sents out certain signals through the body?

So, if we want to talk about prevention, fundamentally, we need to recognise first the signals, and then we will be able to do something about it.

Of course, ideally, we wouldn’t need to arrive at that extreme if we were able to take certain precautions and adjust a little bit our way of doing things. But I will leave this topic for the future.

Today, let’s concentrate on the signals. There are many, but the main four are the following:




The right questions that you can ask yourself to check if you are at risk are:

Do I feel depleted?
Do I feel completely run out of energy, like spent?
Do I feel tired all the time?

Note: Remember that exhaustion can also be emotional.


burnout risk


All of us get to experience some lack of motivation now and then. Even if we love what we do, it is pretty normal to be less enthusiastic about things, for a short period of time.
Moreover, we don’t need to love every single task involved in our work, so we might find ourselves procrastinating, for example.

But what if we lose the enthusiasm completely?
What if we have no more interest whatsoever and cannot fall back in love with what we do?

And what if on top of that, each task seems a mountain to climb, to the extent of having difficulties to drag us into work or even getting out of bed?

Pay attention. It could be symptom N2.

burnout signals


The right question to ask yourself here is related to your vision of the world and the future.

After so many dreams and disappointments, ups and downs, you might have begun to lose optimism. Moreover; you are almost convinced in the end, everything is pointless, and you feel hopeless.

You might also have begun to wonder about the real meaning of your purpose and mission and why it is worth to keep on trying.

The whole world appears negative at this point, and you might be secretly feeling like you don’t care anymore.
But you don’t share this thought with anyone.

Beware: frustration and cynicism can also be burnout signs.



Have you been facing memory problems lately? And what about the ability to stay focused and centred?

Consider that burnout interferes with your abilities. If you feel foggy and somehow lost, making an effort to concentrate and pay attention, or if you have experienced repeated episodes of loss of memory, it’s time to stop and make a consultation.

More signals and symptoms are usually present in a burnout syndrome, but only a physician and a psychologist can make the final diagnosis. Burnout can be easily confused with chronic stress, for example.

What you can do is to pay attention to your body and check if you’ve been having 2 or more of the signals we discussed here.

Don’t wait to collapse. Be proactive.

If you want to learn more about this topic, feel free to send me an email or, even better,

Book your Free Discovery Session


I am happy to be of help.

Strategic adaptability: the number 1 skill for business survival

What can “strategic adaptability” do for your business?

We all know that adaptability is one (if not “the” one) most important skill when it comes to running your own business. You know, other than death and taxes, all the rest is uncertainty.

And as entrepreneurs, we know perfectly well the importance of balance between a good plan and a massive dose of adaptability.

Without a plan, it isn’t easy to achieve any goal. To leave things to luck sounds like entrepreneurial suicide.
And we all know that a last-minute reaction, even if we try to pivot, doesn’t do the trick.

In all strategies, you need to understand why are you doing what you are doing and use the data you collect to predict what’s coming up next.

That is the reason why we use data! We make analysis and predictions, and we trace a map (the strategic plan) that leads the way.

But reality shows that the road is bumpy, and despite all our planning, we can fail to foreseen what’s coming up next, mainly if it is something as unpredictable as, for example, Covid_19.

So, how can we be prepared to navigate those waters?

Better put, can we be fully prepared for that?

The answer is yes, developing strategic adaptability, which is no other than the fusion of planning (external, based on data) and flexibility (internal, based on you).


strategic adaptability


Strategic Adaptability is the capacity to respond in an effective way to the unforeseen changes being able to respond quickly and effectively.

In short: it is the ability to plan for the unexpected.

If we are open to change and can quickly adapt – based on the fluctuations of the environment-,, we will still be able to envision opportunities, even in the most challenging situations.


So, let me ask you:

  • Are you flexible enough to be able to change your strategy if the environment requires it?
  • If the answer is yes, how quick? Time is our most valued asset
  • Can you create a business strategy that includes the unknown? In which way? How do you measure it?
  • Can you harness your emotions over change and get to see the business opportunities that arise with it?


If you want to discover the best way to develop this skill, and want to learn how to apply it to your business


  Click here and book a free chat with me




Time management: secrets from the brain and mind



To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

– William Blake, extract from Auguries of innocence


Getting things faster, with less effort, increasing productivity: this is at the core of any theory and practice behind what we call Time Management.

Since the beginning of the last century, it has been a credo followed by many, and an undisputed principle in societies where driving achievement is the most admired and pursued skill.

But, surprisingly enough, it is also how our brains work: always looking for the easiest way and the best results.

Have you ever wondered how our brains perceive time? And how psychology understands it?

Have you asked yourself if our neurons are able to multitask? Or if you can handle any situation effectively, without letting memories or worries about the future interfere?

In this article, I’ll try to address some of these questions, taking a brief look at what neuroscience and psychology have to say us about time.



Part I: The Brain

Part I: The Psyche

Part I: The importance of the here and now. A practical approach and some exercises



Part I: The Brain

Our study reveals how the brain makes sense of time as an event is experienced. The network does not explicitly encode time. What we measure is rather a subjective time derived from the ongoing flow of experience.” Albert Tsao


In our societies, we live immersed in conventions: clocks – and social conventions – measure and establish what a minute or an hour is, and we act accordingly. Nevertheless, our brains process time in a completely different way. Our mind and body have their own rules.

In our body, the experience of time is determined in two ways: by circadian rhythms or measured directly in our brain.

I’ve written an entire article about circadian rhythms; you can check it out here. But for the purpose of this article, let’s mention the basics.

The circadian rhythm is our internal clock. It is regulated mainly by the hypothalamus – which is also in control of other things, such as hormones, temperature, appetite, sexual behaviour, and emotions.

Our biological clock is reset each day, by sunlight. Although its primary function is exactly the same for all of us, the actual regulation of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness varies, depending on the person.

In short, this is the clock which tells us which part of the day when we are more alert and which part when we’ll find energy levels lower and will feel more sleepy. This internal clock which regulates our body is the reason why we feel uneasy when we are forced to adapt ourselves to new social conventions, or when we need to adjust to sudden changes (like travelling and jet lag, for example).


And what about our brains?

Research in the field of neuroscience has shown that the hippocampus – that seahorse-shaped part of the brain within the limbic system – plays a part in the formation of new memories.
In fact, it tracks time, in 10-second laps.

The capacity all we humans have, to associate and remember different events, is an essential part of what is called episodic memory, which will translate into something like “what”, “where” and “when” a particular thing happened.

A recent study by Albert Tsao and colleagues at NTNU’s Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience shows that there is a “neural clock” in our brains, keeping track of time.

Albert Tsao commented, “The network does not explicitly encode time. Instead, what we measure is subjective time, derived from the ongoing flow of experience“.

Let’s stop here for a moment. What does this mean?

It means that our neural clock is a sort of organiser, and what it does is arrange our experiences sequentially.

Therefore, what we experience as time is nothing more than the result of tracking our experiences in a specific order, merely accompanying the ongoing flow.


But there is more from the neuroscience field: a group of researchers in the NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), made a crucial discovery.

In the brain, there is a network of cells (located right next to the areas which also encode space) which expresses our sense of time, within each experience and memory.

This network provides timestamps for events, and keeps track of the order of events within an experience,” says Professor Edvard Moser, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience.


time management


But enough with neuroscience: what about psychology? How does the psyche interpret time? And how we deal with this interpretation?


Part II: The Psyche


” Psychological time is a product of the mind, more than a reflection of natural chronometric order” T.R. Trautmann

“The unconscious has no time” C. Jung


We all know that the perception of time is subjective. What is a minute for two lovers? Or for somebody who has missed the train? Or for a mother, waiting at the airport for the plane carrying her son to land?

However, despite this subjective aspect of time, humans need to be able to judge the duration of a particular event objectively. It is an essential part of living in society, in relation to others.

So, how does the psyche function to adapt to conventions? Does the mind suffer in any way because of this? How does the mind perceive time?

Psychology has always been fascinated with this subject – the perception of time, and it is in fact an academic field of study.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, never talked specifically about concepts such as time and space. There are no specific articles, chapters or books in his work devoted to the matter. What we have instead are documents and books, focused on what are considered pillars in psychoanalysis, intrinsically related to the notion of time. I’m talking here about subjects such as trauma, amnesia, fixation, repetition, and regression, just to name a few.

Time is undoubtedly at the heart of psychoanalysis, a science which tries to understand how present conflicts are determined and affected by events which occurred in the past.

Well, the thing is that in the unconscious mind, past, present and future coexist. Yes, timelessness is one of the characteristics of the unconscious mind. Time is not linear. (Nachträglichkeit – afterwardsness): we can see the effects of an old traumatic experience reinvesting a current event and arising, here and now, with the strength of then).


Moving away from psychoanalysis, we can see that other theories also put the emphasis on the concept of time.

In the case of the Gestalt, for example, the focus is on the present. Specifically, the here and now.

To me, nothing exists except the now.” said Fritz Perls.

Concepts like awareness and present are fundamental to this theory, and modern times and schools have developed all sorts of exercises to help the mind to remain, as long as possible, in the present moment.

But this emphasis does not mean to ignore the importance of the past and the future.

Acknowledging that the mind will tend to dwell in the past or project into the future, Gestalt reinforces the need to focus on the here and now.


And what about Emotional Intelligence?

Dr Daniel Goleman popularised the words coined by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer. With a particular emphasis on the connection between the fields of psychology and neuroscience, this approach sees time as a precious resource.
Thus, time management is a desirable skill in reaching goals and general productivity.

I won’t overextend myself here, because I will dedicate a full article to this subject very soon. What I will say, is that for this theory, time – as well as emotions – can be managed and controlled.

To influence productivity and, therefore, success, you need to understand and control your emotions.




Part III. The importance of the here and now. A practical approach and some exercises


Time is the heart of existence.” Henri Bergson


In this final part, I’d like to share with you some tips and exercises which will help you to remain in the here and now, focused and attentive, increasing your awareness.

Trust me: your brain will thank you.


  • Breath in and breath out

Sit comfortably and relaxed. Check that your spine is straight and that you’re not putting extra pressure on your shoulders.

Pay attention to your breathing, without modifying it. Just observe it.

Now, consciously, inhale slowly through your nose, counting up to 5.

Hold your breath, counting up to 5 again.

Slowly, breath out, always counting up to 5.

Repeat the exercise 3 times and then breathe normally.


  • Focus on the here and now

Choose an external object or sound which catches your attention (a pen, your phone, Alexa, a conversation next door, a dog barking outside the window).

Think about the object. What is it like? Does it have a particular shape, colour, smell, sound? Does it have a specific function? Note everything which comes into your mind.

Now, describe it again, beginning with: “At this moment, I notice the sound of…”, or “Right now, I’m seeing…”

End the exercise whenever you want.


  • Recent past, present and next future

Take a moment and choose a non-work-related activity which you often do and enjoy (e.g. going to the gym, reading, listening to music while commuting, your yoga class in the morning).

Think about the last time you did it. When was it? How was it? Try to use adjectives to describe it: fun, stimulating, challenging, pleasant. Think about it and try to recreate the emotions and sensations felt at the moment of the activity.

Now, think about the next time you will be doing the same activity. When will it be? How do you imagine it will be? Why? Try to anticipate your sensations and emotions and describe them.

Finally, take a deep breath and come back to here and now. Where are you? What objects surround you? How do you feel now?


Following any of these exercises, take a moment to think about your experience. Was it easy? Was it uncomfortable? Would you like to repeat it some other time and see what happens?

I strongly recommend using pen and paper (or your phone for that matter) to record the experience. That way, when you repeat it, you can compare notes and follow up changes and progress.

Do you find yourself struggling with your time management? Perhaps procrastinating, failing to prioritize, fighting distractions or scheduling task in a non-effective way?

If so, I can help. Just click on the button below and get a Free Discovery Call.


Book your Free Discovery Session




Note: This article was specially written to complement the course “Time management across different cultures”, that you can check out here.  The course, by Maria Antonietta Marino, is one of the many that Mudita Consultancy offers to those in seek of deeper understandings.”



Sources and recommended readings:

Arlow JA. Psychoanalysis and time. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1986;34(3):507-528. doi:10.1177/000306518603400301

Freud, S. Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (SE) (1886-1939) Vol I – XXV

Green, A. (2002). Time in Psychoanalysis: some contradictory aspects. London and New York: Free Association Books.

Goleman, D. (1995)  Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ

Goleman, D. (2000) Working with emotional intelligence.

Perls, F.  (1969) Gestalt Therapy Verbatim

Perls, F., Hefferline, R., & Goodman, P., (1951) Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality.

Rubin A., Geva N., Sheintuch L., Ziv Y. (2015) Hippocampal ensemble dynamics timestamp events in long-term memory. Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. eLife 2015;4:e12247 DOI: 10.7554

Soysal Acar, A.Şebnem & Bodur, Sahin & Hizli Sayar, Gokben. (2005). The here and now therapy. Anadolu Psikiyatri Dergisi. 6. 274-280.

Trautmann, T. R. (1995). Time: Histories and Ethnologies. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Tsao A, Sugar J, Lu L, et al. (2018) Integrating time from experience in the lateral entorhinal cortex. Nature. 2018;561(7721):57-62. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0459-6.


Leading with Empathy: an essential skill for success

Leading with Empathy: an essential skill for success

Leading with empathy makes the whole difference. In this article, we already discussed the meaning of empathy, the difference between cognitive, emotional and compassionate empathies and the role they each play in workplace dynamics, forming an essential part of any successful business.


Now, having acknowledged that empathy plays such a fundamental role that it might even define the course of the enterprise itself, it’s time to dig deeper, learn how to apply it and also, how to improve it.

A lot has been said already about its implementation, but the truth is that there is still a long way to go.

Most corporations still struggle to understand the real value of empathy which, ultimately, should be at the core of any company culture.


Well, leading with empathy is not easy. Firstly, because it relates to ethics and secondly, because it works in favour of the company, bringing loyalty, productivity, and benefits.

Instead of beginning a real implementation project (like regular meetings and seminars to learn and discuss the topic and decide the best course of action, or getting a consultant in to facilitate the changes), employers are finding more and more employees resigning on a daily basis as a consequence of “false empathy”, or the pretence of an empathetic approach.

Not to mention the high cost of losing clients, which is another flagrant example of the lack of empathy in any business.

So, how does a company take the big step and begin a serious and long-lasting transformation? 

leading with empathy


The first step towards leading with empathy should be to acknowledge the lack of an empathetic culture and the second is to also acknowledge the need to create one at the heart of the company.

Once these two primordial steps are completed, the company can move forward and begin the process.


Here are some ideas that can be implemented across a corporation by each and everyone in it. These strategies/new behaviours will change the face – and the heart – of your company:


• Pay close attention to your clients’ needs and requirements

• Improve timing and quality in the delivery of goods or services, according to your clients’ needs

• Make meaningful and long-lasting connections with key members in the organisation

• Be able to solve difficulties or help others with hindrances, in time

• Create bonds and connections that will form the basis for future loyalty

• Create (physical) space and time for those connections to flourish

• Open the doors to innovation based on trust and respect


But there is more: what else you can do to lead with empathy, right now?

Well, you can:

Show gratitude: say thank you more often, appreciate the time and effort that others invest in you, your product and your service. Give credit for the things well done. Being grateful not only creates bonds but also shows respect and dignity

Prove you listen and care: practice active listening which can restore confidence and help build loyalty. A high percentage of employees, as well as customers, feel their opinion doesn’t matter. Make yourself available: create surveys, ask direct questions, handle 1-to-1 meetings, be sure that your customer service is providing the necessary assistance

Share stories with a positive outlook, whenever you can but especially before beginning a meeting. Sharing creates a bond and helps to set an ambiance of collaboration, willingness, openness and receptiveness

Listen to your co-workers and team members. Make some extra time to give others the opportunity to share. Make room, physically and emotionally, for the others’ experiences. Let people talk and listen to their stories.


And…there is even more you can do!

Give constructive feedback. If you find yourself having to give negative feedback, walk the extra mile in the shoes of your employee and try to create a constructive atmosphere. With the right words, you will reinforce your employee’s confidence instead of making them feel demotivated. This will open the doors to change and improvement

Pay real attention to your customers. If you understand their needs and learn to decode them, you will be able to point the company in the right direction, also giving it the chance to be open to creativity and innovation.


Interested in developing these skills, improving your career and contribute to an empathetic culture in your company?

Book your Free Discovery Session here


Book your Free Discovery Session



(A similar post was previously published on Chery McMillan website).


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