I know it was in my house growing up. It’s still a word that just makes me cringe. It’s about the biggest insult I can think of and definitely fighting words.

I grew up in a blue-collar home in a blue-collar neighborhood with one of the hardest working dads I knew. He definitely instilled a strong work ethic in all of his children, which I think we are all deeply grateful for…..but, did you know there can be a down-side to this?

As high-achievers, we can take this work ethic to the -nth degree, can’t we? It can become all nose to the grindstone, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, constant need for productivity and accomplishment or you feel empty, unworthy, and incomplete….

It can be downright exhausting! And lead to feelings of never working hard enough, never doing enough, and never being good enough. It is often the path to burn out.

In fact, years ago I suffered adrenal fatigue from it all, myself. I know the path well, but I also know the recovery.

If you want sustainable peak performance (staying at the top of your game for the long-haul), you have to shift your ideas about work and work ethic. I’m going to say some things that might rile you up here but they need to be said.

  • Work does not have to be hard, exhausting, or all encompassing.
  • You do not have to struggle for it to mean something.
  • Success does not have to be “hard won.”
  • Work can even be fun, enjoyable, and light, if you want, without it sacrificing your success.
  • Rest, recovery and down-time are crucial for innovation, stamina, endurance, and overall success.

It’s good to have a strong work-ethic. But it’s also good to have balance. It’s important to learn how to leverage your zone of genius to get maximum results with the least amount of effort. It’s important to learn how to capitalize on your work ethic without it burning you out. If you don’t what’s it all for?

Today, think about your relationship to work and your work ethic. Where is your work ethic dominating you and where do you need to take control? Have you tried to take control of it before? How did that go? Do you need help mastering your drive and ambition in order to accomplish your high-level goals without burning out?

If you need help, contact me at [email protected] for an application for my Sustainable Peak Performance program where you will learn just that. I’m going to help you heal your nervous system, rewire your brain and permanently change your habits so that you have even more success, but without the burn out. Don’t allow your ambition to run you over, your impact in the world is too important for you to burn out before you get there.  

#peakperformance #sustainablepeakperformance #positivepsychology #executivecoach #burnout


  • Dr. Donna Marino (PsyD)

    Psychologist & Executive Coach

    Donna Marino, PsyD, Ltd

    Dr. Donna Marino is a Psychologist and Executive Coach. She is an expert in helping high-achieving leaders move from burnout to SUSTAINABLE peak performance, so that they can fulfill their mission while also experiencing greater health, happiness, and relationships. Dr. Marino has over 20 years of experience in human potential and transformational change.

    As a high-achiever, who works with high-achievers, she discovered a collection of characteristics that when left unchecked lead to burn out, high-functioning anxiety and high-functioning depression. She coined the term for this condition, High-Achievers Syndrome (TM) and developed a protocol for dealing with it, recovering and creating SUSTAINABLE peak performance.

      Dr. Donna is also a sought after speaker and author on leadership, peak performance, and burnout recovery.