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Burnout with Ram Castillo on Experience Design with Tony Daussat

A Follow Up Reflection.

I came across this simple, powerful and vulnerable conversation on Linkedin, and was compelled to listen. The conversation was on a podcast episode hosted by Experience Design with Tony Daussat who was interviewing Ram Castillo.

You can listen to the episode here.

For those who are unfamiliar with Ram, as I was too listening to him for the first time:

Ram Castillo runs a popular podcast (reached the ranking of #3 in iTunes in 5 countries) in the design category called: Giant Thinkers where he interviews all-star peak performers in the design field with a sprinkle in of Olympic Athletes and Entrepreneurs to date.

Podcaster aside, Ram is an all-star in the design field as a Design Director for over 15 years working for global agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, DDB, JWT and McCann Worldgroup on clients such as Audi, McDonald’s, Qantas, Coca-Cola, Telstra, Google and The Louis Vuitton Group.

As Ram shares in the podcast, he grew up as a child knowing that being creative was a natural gift. He was always building and tinkering. He is passionate and deeply engaged with his work, whether that’s in creative strategy, entrepreneurship, solving problems or creating valuable content for his audience.

It’s about creating and actualizing something from no more than an idea into something real, meaningful, and tangible. Coupled with a deep rooted belief to “dream big”, inherited from his mother, there’s almost an endless amount of fuel for creativity that drives that creative need and hunger to express his gifts.

If you’re in the design field, I’m sure you might share a similar passion.

You might be wondering: “If I’m lucky enough to connect on my passion and make a career out of it - how can I burn out?” We all know what being passionate feels like. Being in that creative flow, time just effortlessly passing by, and harnessing that incredible sharp focus and ingenuity.

All high performers and high achievers instinctively and intentionally tap into that emotional state.

It’s a powerful natural high.

However, many people believe burnout occurs because of repetitive, boring and redundant tasks. That it’s the suffering from a creative and soul sucking drain.

While it also happens, that's far from the truth.

At the Burnout Clinic, our definition of burnout is simple: You exert more energy than you can recover, as a habit.

As Ram simply puts it, it’s when your norm is operating at the red line. Your mind, heart and spirit drives forward, but your physical body shuts down.

It could also be a combination of any other.

When you are fueled by passion and a deep motivational drive, it often masks the physical indicators that remind you to stop. Unfortunately, as habits are an unconscious behaviours - even if you knew you have to stop by:

  • Being more mindful
  • Getting more sleep and rest
  • Eating healthy and fueling the body with good nutrition
  • Reminding yourself, it’s not about the hustle, it’s about the dream 
  • Life is a journey not a destination
  • Go for the WHY not the HOW
  • Go with the FLOW, don’t take life so seriously

While all powerful and important intentions, deep rooted beliefs generally imprinted as children or through possible trauma would lead many to continue to compulsively barrel ahead, and get frustrated as you derail your best intentions.

As Ram recognized it with his burnout experience while spending nine days bed resting, it can be recognized by your thinking. A tiny voice and an internal dialog in your head that leads you to feel highly anxious.

Now imagine how silent that voice is when you’re in the middle of the hustle, but how powerful the motivation is that keeps you going.

That’s when you get stuck on the path of burnout and eventually reach the difficult point of no return.

The reality is, Ram isn’t a unique case when it comes to burnout. However, he is the few that has openly shared it to hopefully make a difference to someone going through the same thing.

A study of over 10 thousand respondents by Comparably, a workplace ranking company, showed that 51% of designers report burnout. Gallup released a study showing of the third of the workforce who are actively engaged, 20% struggle with burnout. This also includes the two-thirds of the workforce who already report experiencing burnout.

That’s not a surprise as the need for creativity, consuming content, and technology has sky-rocketed since the birth of the digital age and the rise of entrepreneurship. Burnout isn’t just a workplace phenomenon as described by the World Health Organization, it’s become ingrained as a social norm and hustle culture in and beyond the workplace.

With our clinical practice, we use a therapeutic process called Mental Emotional Release. It effectively releases the suppressed emotional baggage, limiting beliefs and inner conflicts that drive the unconscious behaviours that lead to burnout.

An overarching theme that we’ve noticed with our work is releasing the limiting belief of: “I’m not enough” from the neurology that drives a lot of burnout behaviour. In fact, that message is the platform of Marisa Peer who is one of Britain's most renowned therapists who has practiced for over 30 years.

With a very powerful insight, Ram echoes his own powerful observation with the audience:

"Slowing down doesn’t mean you’re devaluing your worth. It doesn’t mean, you’re not enough." - Ram Castillo

The show ends with the invitation for Ram to appear on the show again before the end of the year.

I will look forward to that next episode.

Thank you Ram for sharing your story, being vulnerable and up lifting the design community and beyond with your story of burnout.

A little about me... Hi! I'm Duncan So, Executive Director at I’ve been a child of corporate burnout that has led me into the field of human flourishing for over a decade. I’ve been a social entrepreneur and change agent ever since, on a mission to create a more passionate world building systems and programs for companies and communities on the path of making social good.

Want to breakthrough your burnout and creating meaningful work for yourself or your organization?