BURNOUT: When an Owner Must Change!

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After the 1982 NFL Football season, Dick Vermeil, head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, abruptly resigned. He had reached a point in his life where he could not continue. He was burned out.

During the football season, Coach Vermeil routinely slept in a cot in his office 6 days per week. He was dedicated to his job and to his team. One Friday morning during the 1982 season, he drove to Veteran’s stadium and was so tired that he could not get out of the car

Coach Vermeil eventually learned that he had to change if his health was to improve. Eventually, he returned to the NFL to coach the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title. During this tenure, he learned to work smarter, not just longer.


As business owners, we can learn from Coach Vermeil. We must create a balance in our life between our Business, our Health, our Finances, and our Family. Spending too much time and effort in one of these areas inevitably hurts the others. In the case of Coach Vermeil, he spent all of his time on his business and neglected his health and his family. While contemplating his resignation in January 1983, he approached his wife and asked for her advice about making the decision. Famously, she is quoted as saying, “If you can’t [make the decision], I can. We’re getting out.”

Making this type of change is hard to do. However, it is absolutely necessary, if you are going to survive in today’s business world. As business owners, it is not always easy for us to see the toll that our choices are making on our health or family. That’s why it is important to listen to the advice of family members and other confidants.


So, how can you bring proper balance to your life? First consider the amount of time you are spending in your business. Is it possible to delegate your tasks and responsibilities? Usually, the first response is “No one can do this task better than me.” OR “It will take so much time to train someone; it is better that I do it myself.” OR “I am afraid of letting someone else do this work.” All of these statements may be absolutely true. However, they cannot prevent you from delegating the task.

Delegation is a learned skill. Proper delegation is important. Not all tasks need to be delegated. Focus your efforts on high value tasks, and delegate the rest to competent individuals who can complete them. When approaching a delegated task, follow these simple 5 steps:

  1. Define the task clearly
  2. Set a deadline
  3. Establish benchmarks
  4. Agree on resources
  5. Agree on consequences

Following the above 5 steps and creating a written plan with your employee will increase the likelihood that the task will be completed correctly on time.

Returning to Coach Vermeil, he started coaching again in 1997. However, only after having a team meeting prior to the 1999 season, did he finally make some changes to improve his effectiveness. During the season, he turned over offensive play calling to Mike Martz, his Offensive Coordinator. As the head coach, he made it his priority to create a relaxing culture of winning within the organization. The disciplinarian from the Eagles finally adapted to the new NFL players of the St. Louis Rams. As a result they won the Super Bowl.


It is counter intuitive, but it is true. If you spend less time IN your business, then you can make more money. If you delegated away low value tasks to others, then presumably you are spending more of your time on high value tasks. This means you are focusing on the real issues that drive value in your business. This will create new business opportunities to increase your profits.

Let’s take the time to also explore this from the perspective of a potential buyer for your business. Buyers want to see a seamless operation that is not dependent upon the owner. The more dependent on the owner, the more likely the transaction will include a transition clause where the business owner is required to stay. If an owner has built the business to operate without him/her, then there are higher cash considerations and less time spent in the business once the sale is complete.


Burnout is not just for sports coaches. Business owners who spend 12-16 hours per day in their business can experience the same sense of imbalance. It is important to recognize this and take the necessary steps to enact change. One key step is to begin delegating tasks to employees. By delegating, you will free the time necessary for you to focus on high value tasks. As you spend more time on strategic plans for the business, profits and value will increase. Even potential Buyers will see the change and make an appropriate adjustment to the sales price or the transition time period after the sale.

About the Author: Garrett Grega is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching in Branchburg, New Jersey, where he specializes in reconnecting executives, business owners, and managers with their business passions! Garrett has his own passion for supporting others through transitions. He has 20+ years helping international companies launch new products and processes. He previously spent 8 years launching LED lighting products for various lighting companies. His professional experience includes: strategic planning, business development, marketing, and product development. He can be reached at ggrega@focalpointcoaching.com. See more at www.garrettgrega.focalpointcoaching.com


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