Managing Burnout Risk

It is quite apparent that burnout is one of the highest priority risks facing security professionals today, by threat impact, and by threat likelihood. This can be clearly observed on Twitter, and in conversations with professional regardless of company. However, when security professionals talk about mitigating risk in their lives, their threat model rarely includes this high priority risk. Perhaps it’s less fun to grapple with than account takeover, endpoint compromise, or covert operations. Or perhaps we avoid it because unlike these other, more technical threats, we don’t have the tools to combat burnout.

Burnout can be devastating to an individual’s work and personal life. And stress from each can contribute. We only have one supply of wellness to draw upon and so when stress at home adds to stress at work it can catapult us directly into burnout country. But sadly stress is unavoidable, so what can we do to mitigate the risk of burnout in the face of that stress.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do to prevent burnout is to notice the signs early, and know what contributes to it in our lives. It’s much easier to prevent burnout before you’re in the thick of it. When you feel a rising sense anxiety, depression, or hopelessness; it’s time to stop and ask yourself, “What’s contributing to this? What are the largest sources of stress in my life right now?”

Find someone to talk to about these feelings and about this stress. If possible visit a licensed psychologist, they can dramatically improve your overall quality of life.

The book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success (Stalberg, Magness, 2017) explains that peak performance can be achieved and burnout avoided, not through the elimination of stress (we need stress to grow) but through creating a regular cycle of stress and rest.

This means that understanding how you best rest is critical for not only avoiding burnout, but for achieving you most.

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