CNLP 354: Jo Saxton on How Leaders Fall Into Burnout, How to Come Back from It and on How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress on Your Team

“You have one body, and your leadership lives in it.” Jo Saxton had a lot to overcome from her childhood, and it caused her to become a driven leader in her thirties. Eventually, her drivenness led her into a burnout so deep she ended up in the hospital.

Jo not only recovered but figured out how to accomplish more by doing less. She explains how that happened and how to reduce the level of fear and anxiety your team experiences.

Welcome to Episode 354 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about the importance of sleep, why he prioritizes it, and offers some hacks on how to sleep better.

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More Than Enchanting by Jo Saxton

The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

Ready to Rise by Jo Saxton

Sleep by Nick Littlehales

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6 Current Productivity Experiments That are Paying Off (+ 1 Fail) by Carey Nieuwhof


1. Who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be

When Jo was growing up, she was told that since she was a Nigerian girl in 1970’s London, she would have to work twice as hard as everyone else just to be equal. She had been dehumanized by society away from her potential. This didn’t go away as she got older.

People told her that she “should” be quieter, or that she “should” go find a good man and do ministry that way, or that she “should” just let other people handle certain areas of ministry. Jo has learned that you can’t let what other people think you “should” be determine who you become. Stay true to how God has gifted you, no matter what other people think.

2. You have one body, and your leadership lives in it

Your body doesn’t lie. Jo and Carey have both learned this the hard way as they each went through their own seasons of burnout. When Jo was burning out, she saw how badly the people in her church needed her, so she kept working more hours. Eventually through insomnia and anxiety attacks, her body began telling her to stop, and eventually, it forced her to stop by putting her in urgent care.

Carey has a similar story with burnout when he didn’t listen to his body’s warnings. Have you? As a leader, the demand on your time and energy is immense. Add on being a great parent and spouse, friend or sibling, and it would be easy to sacrifice sleep, eating healthy, or exercise for the sake of work. Don’t. If you don’t put serious effort into taking care of your body, it will quit taking care of you.

3. It takes a village to make a leader

When you look deep into the stories of the greatest leaders in history, whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or other highly-influential leaders, you see that there was a movement of people surrounding them, making them who they were. Jo has also seen this in her own life.

Jo comes from a very communal culture that is different from the modern West. This communal mindset has taught her that not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to raise a leader. You have probably seen this in your own life and leadership. So today, find a leader whose corner you can step into, and do it.

Quotes from Episode 354

You have one body, and your leadership lives in it. @josaxton Click To Tweet

Who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be? @josaxton Click To Tweet

There is a healing even in leading in the way you're wired. @josaxton Click To Tweet

I had built my entire life on being twice as good to be equal. @josaxton Click To Tweet

I was fighting to be equal. Now I know I'm equal, and I don't have to. @josaxton Click To Tweet

When you're dehumanized, you get detached from your potential. @josaxton Click To Tweet

Leaders, it's time to know you're enough. You're already good enough. And if you know that knowing that truth would change you in some way, then it's time to let it change you. @josaxton Click To Tweet

We don't burn out because we want to. We burn out because of the other things that are driving us. @josaxton Click To Tweet

You may have great ideas and be a wonderful businessman or a woman, a wonderful innovator, a great creative, but if your body's out, you're out. @josaxton Click To Tweet

I decided where my intensity would go, and rather than my intensity going into endless activity, it would go towards my well-being. @josaxton Click To Tweet

One of the big challenges in times when everything's shaken is, 'What in our expectations can stay the same and what has to change?' @josaxton Click To Tweet

A leader without cultural competency is a leader with an interesting deadline. @josaxton Click To Tweet

It's just really vital that as leaders, we are culturally cognizant, because not everybody experiences the world in the same way that we do. @josaxton Click To Tweet

We need people who help us get roots and people who give us wings. @josaxton Click To Tweet

I would ask every leader to consider, 'Who's your village?' @josaxton Click To Tweet

The better you sleep, the higher your productivity. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

A rested you is a better, kinder and more productive you. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: John Eldredge

When John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart came out 20 years ago, it struck a chord that continues to reverberate decades later about the message men and women most need to hear. John talks about his own unsustainable pace, what the internet is doing to our souls, and how to live your life at a pace your soul can sustain.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 355.

CNLP 354: Jo Saxton on How Leaders Fall Into Burnout, How to Come Back from It and on How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress on Your Team

1 Comment

  1. Frances on July 23, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Jo spoke to my heart! I’m a Native American woman and her struggles growing up were the same as mine. When she said I had to be twice as good to be equal…I lived that. Carey, thank you for using your platform to let her voice be heard.

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