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Could a Dietitian, Physiologist, and Executive Coach Be the Cure to Burnout?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 29, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lawyers know a thing or two about burnout. After all, dealing with high-stakes conflicts, demanding hours, and constant pressure, well, it's no wonder so many people find themselves at the end of their ropes. Some attorneys change practices or change careers, others implode in a more spectacular fashion.

But Johnson & Johnson thinks it might have the cure for burnout amongst its high performers -- and it involves a dietitian, a physiologist, and an executive coach. Could their approach work in your legal department?

Tackling Burnout in the Highest Ranks

J&J's "anti-burnout initiative" is focused not on lawyers but on seven of its executives, Bloomberg reports. The goal is to keep its corporate leaders in physical, mental, and emotional shape.

The program, which the health and personal care company is calling Premier Executive Leadership, will surround its leadership class with specialists like the medical crew around an astronaut after splashdown. A battery of services will include abdominal ultrasounds at the Mayo Clinic and home visits by a dietitian for cupboard inspections.

The program starts with a health assessment -- an assessment so thorough it lasts two and a half days. Doctors prod and poke to learn as much about the execs as they can, from their bone density to genetic makeup. Afterwards, the exec then spends several days with three "coaches," a dietitian, physiologist, and executive coach, who will monitor the leader's progress. Even family and friends are interviewed, in order to suss out any "potential fractures that could become tectonic shifts if there's enough pressure applied."

From there, the team creates a personalized plan to help the execs succeed without using up everything they've got. All told, the program costs $100K a head.

You and Your VUCA

Alright, that $100K price tag might be a big spend for an in-house attorney, but there's plenty that lawyers can learn from J&J's efforts. The whole purpose of the program, according to Bloomberg, is to help reduce the toll of working in a "volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous," or VUCA, environment.

And believe me, lawyers know VUCA. So whether it's pursuing a corporate wellness program, talking to a life or career coach, straightening out your diet, or having regular health checkups, taking a page from J&J's anti-burnout program could help keep you sharp and on top of your game, just like a corporate exec.

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