"Preventing Burnout: The Core Four" by Cari Guittard

SheByShe is thrilled to welcome Cari E. Guittard, as a new guest blogger. Cari's passion is women's leadership issues. She is a founding principal at Global Engagement Partners and an adjunct faculty member at the Hult International Business School of Dubai and San Francisco. She also balances her career with motherhood. In the post below, Cari explains how a better understanding of your Core Four helps prevent burnout. Thank-you, Cari for this insightful post.

Two years ago, I had a lengthy and disturbing conversation with a female friend of mine.By way of background, she is a successful global leader in her mid-forties who has traveled and worked internationally for two decades, made incredible contributions in the public and private sectors and has won numerous awards and accolades for her service and pioneering approach on a variety of global issues. To all of us who know her, she is a force of nature. She was also someone who on the outside seemed to have everything in check. She took challenges head-on and kept moving up to increasingly higher profile posts. Then one day, she called me and said, "I'm done." She was hiding out in her family's cabin on the coast. "I am physically and mentally exhausted. My brain is fried and I have this weight behind my eyes... it literally aches and I can't get rid of it. I'm burned out, have no idea what my next step is and I just feel done. Now what?"

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

This call struck me as I was in the middle of developing a Women's Leadership course for the Hult International Business School in Dubai and because I too had experienced some of what she was experiencing, particularly the mental fatigue and weight behind the eyes feeling.  The scary thing was that I was starting to see more and more of my female colleagues at every age hitting this same wall seemingly earlier and earlier in their careers. This cannot be healthy, there has to be a way to strengthen our minds and bodies to support our ambitions and 24/7 lifestyles.

This question spurred me to embark on a two-year research project digging into anything and everything I could find about how to realistically build mental and physical resiliency while uncovering and pursuing one's passion and purpose. Initially my journey was prompted by my decision to have children later in life and in the midst of a crazy career.  But the more friends and colleagues I saw in the same position – and particularly the stories I was hearing regularly about women under 40, seemingly healthy on the outside, having strokes and heart attacks -- my journey grew from a personal one to a Vision Quest of sorts. 

We need to get this figured out asap. 

Initially I interviewed leaders I had worked with and who were in exceptional shape mentally, physically and emotionally.  Men and women, all over the age of 60.  After dozens and dozens of interviews some clear patterns began to emerge and even though they each had very different career paths, they all had strength in four key areas that I have come to believe the combination of which is how they have achieved such mental and physical resiliency and stamina throughout their lives.

First and foremost, they were all truly passionate about their work. Passion, regardless of what you do, is an essential common thread that fuels successful, long-term personal growth. You can't fake passion. You either have it, or you don't... and if you haven't found it, the time to begin searching for it is now.  It’s in there, it’s simply a matter of uncovering it.  And, it's never too late.

The Core Four

In addition to passion, there are three other areas that each of the leaders I profiled possessed and built strength in to varying degrees over the course of their careers and lives:

·        KSAs -- Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities -- Lifelong learners in many areas and disciplines; they have high Curiosity Quotients and never stop learning

·        Physical Self - Physical health, wellness, & shoring up energy reserves through whatever means one most enjoys; for me its been yoga and strength training for others running... just get moving in a way that makes you feel stronger from the inside out 

·        Mental & Psychological Strength, Resilience - Leverage a combination of strategies and focused attention on honing the brain's ability to respond to stress, crises and over stimulation; can include meditation, yoga, and other brain power strategies that are emerging in this space

·        Passion - Consistent pursuit of several efforts one is personally passionate about

Taking Stock

      Use the diagram below to take stock of your Core Four. Where do you have strengths? Where do you have weaknesses? The ideal is to have a balance of strength across all four areas. How strong is your Core Four?


Cari E. Guittard is a founding Principal at Global Engagement Partners (GEP), an on demand global engagement, tri-sector strategy, and strategic influence consulting firm. In this capacity Guittard continues her corporate diplomacy and women’s leadership efforts as well as work on an extensive global portfolio of issues including gender intelligence, grassroots initiatives, geopolitical risk strategy, and work with multi-national companies, start-ups and governments around the world.  Guittard specializes in developing, branding and executing unique partnerships and seeding campaigns nationally and globally for maximum impact.  Prior to her work with GEP, Guittard served as founding Executive Director of Business for Diplomatic Action, a private sector-led public diplomacy non-profit whose mission involved engaging and guiding corporations in a variety of global affairs and public diplomacy activities. Prior to BDA, Guittard served in senior positions at the US Department of State working on a variety of portfolios ranging from public diplomacy and public affairs to cyber security, counter-terrorism, and political military affairs. Guittard has served as a spokesman, media representative, and law enforcement liaison and trainer for cyber threats and critical infrastructure initiatives, as well as advised senior officials of foreign governments, national and global non-profits, and a diverse group of multi-national corporations.

Guittard has extensive experience in the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. She has appeared in numerous media and radio outlets to include The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. Guittard is a noted public speaker, speech writer, blogger and facilitator on issues related to foreign policy, public diplomacy, gender intelligence, women’s leadership and corporate diplomacy. Guittard currently serves in an adjunct faculty capacity teaching graduate courses in Corporate Diplomacy & Geopolitics for the University of Southern California Annenberg School and courses in International Negotiations and Women’s Leadership for the Hult MBA School in Dubai. Guittard is also certified by the Thunderbird School of Global Management’s Global Mindset Research Institute to teach and facilitate learning based on their groundbreaking GLOBE research and GMI curriculum.  Guittard earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Government & Political Science in 1997 and an MPA in 1998 from the University of Texas at Dallas. In 1998 Guittard was selected nationally for the Presidential Management Fellowship.  In 2007 Guittard was selected by San Francisco 7X7 Magazine’s Hot 20 Under 40, an annual profiling of emerging leaders in the Bay Area.  Last fall Guittard received recognition for her Women’s Leadership efforts by MBA Women International as one of their Hall of Heroes award recipients.  Guittard and her husband reside in the Bay Area.