As an English teacher, burnout is a very real danger. At one time in my career, I was struggling. Fortunately for me, I discovered a book by Chris Ducker called Virtual Freedom which I want to argue saved my life, like crazy!
So here’s the scoop.
About Virtual Freedom
Virtual Freedom is about how Chris Ducker, a serial entrepreneur, was suffering from “Superman Syndrome” and as a businessman trying to do everything to keep his business afloat. Superman Syndrome simply refers to when a person tries to do everything at once in their work and/or their business and eventually burns out. Lovely, right? For many people, Superman Syndrome is public enemy number one!
In his book, Ducker mentions how he used to struggle with doing everything himself and not delegating any of the tasks he could have easily delegated. He talks about one of the biggest revelations of his life being that he could outsource and be able to rely on the help and support of virtual assistants around the world to get a lot of his work done to increase his power and his success in his business endeavors. He also goes into detail about many different ways of doing this (another reason to pick up this book!). Yes, I am pushing his book on you, sadly I don’t profit.
About the Problem of Burnout (and THE law of success)
Some people struggle with the things they wish to pursue because they try to do everything themselves, but part of being accomplished in life is not so much about what you do yourself but it’s about what you get others to do for you. In Napoleon Hill’s book, The Law of Success, he talks about how organized effort towards a goal is one way to reach success a lot faster than if you were to do everything yourself. He wrote and published this book in 1928, so you can imagine just how real this problem is! There isn’t even a pill for it yet!
Ducker says much the same thing in his book which he wrote in the 2000s. Some things just never change.
It’s hard to get out of that Protestant ethic mindset that we all grow up with where we’re all taught, at least subliminally, to do all the work ourselves and that nothing is valid if it’s not all done by ourselves and that we don’t all hold the credit. However, in life, there’s really very little you can do on your own without the support and assistance of others. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be your own self-starter, but a lot of what needs to get done can only be done with the help of others.
Organized effort and alliance-building has a way of increasing your productivity, as Ducker learned, and which I learned firsthand as an English teacher after reading his book.
My Problem with Burnout (Which might be your problem too!)
At the time that I was reading Ducker’s book, I was very stressed because I had many hours of teaching, paid and unpaid. I also had many unpaid hours of lesson planning because a lot of the curriculum I had the responsibility of building from scratch. I did have support from colleagues, but a lot of the work fell to me and it got so stressful that I actually starting binging on spiritual YouTube videos for guidance and support. Which is almost as bad as ewatching televangists.
You know you’ve reached the deep end when you’re looking to guidance and support for your classes from people who claim they make love to aliens. Which is a real low point considering aliens can’t love.
But I digress!
How the Problem Started
When this English school picked me up in South Korea and they said, “Here, we’ll give you all the hours you could ever want and all this work that nobody else wants to do,” my young mind was like, “Gee! This is great! I could be validated by other people.” Then I had to wonder if they saw me as naïve instead of educated.
However, soon after working a lot, I started feeling like I was getting nowhere. Like the proverbial hamster on its wheel. I realized that maybe being overworked wasn’t really the path to success. It was more of a cycle of confusion.
Good thing I had Chris Ducker’s book on my side! To banish evil! And get off the hamster wheel to nowhere.
Problem (Yours) Solved!
Chris Ducker advises a lot of ways you can outsource to people in the Philippines. He recommends the Philippines mostly because that’s where he has the most experience, but in this day and age you can pretty much find anybody on the planet to help you with your cause using sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, or Fivesquid and others.
While reading Ducker’s book, I was absorbing all the different ways I could increase my productivity without doing so much work, to work smart and not hard. After I finished the book, I was also thinking how I could focus more on the things I enjoyed doing like performing in front of the kids instead of things like lesson planning, building worksheets, or monitoring progress. I didn’t enjoy doing these tasks. They took up a lot of time. So out they went! And education through laziness prevailed.
The Evolution of My Current “Practice”
I decided to take Chris Ducker’s advice by outsourcing a bit here and there. I would hire a VA to design a PowerPoint based on my idea concepts. Sometimes I would have them design worksheets and eventually, I would give these worksheets to other people to refine. I would then “deliver” in performance these PowerPoints to my students based on what the VA from the Philippines had done. Behold, it was as if I had actually done all the work! It was amazing! No one knew the difference, and I had found the secret to success! Make others work hard and take credit. Simple.
The PPTs were hugely successful, didn’t cost me a lot of money. I was still making a profit while I was an English teacher. Poof! Problem solved! Chris Ducker saved my life!
How this Solved All of My Problems
Delegating all the work I didn’t want to do free up my entire weekends. I was actually able to have a life again! And toward the end of my tenure as a public school teacher, I had large swaths of the week completely covered by my VA who designed worksheets, power points, lesson plans, recorded all the progress of the kids, even made phone calls to agencies proposing that we collaborate on establishing an EFL publishing company. I had virtually the entire country of the Philippines on my side, thanks to Chris Ducker! I felt more like Tony Robbins than a teacher.
I had VAs doing everything but the in-person teaching which is what I felt I was the most effective at anyway. And I could still do that with little effort.
The beauty of it was that I would just walk into the room and everything was taken care of. Everybody was happy. I was also able to get back my time, my energy, and focus on improving myself instead of belaboring myself with many tasks I did not want to do. I’m very indebted to Chris Ducker for helping me see the light in that respect and for helping me get on a path that made my job easier and less stressful. Without him, I would still be working harder and not smarter.
Of course, as an English teacher, I have also got other projects where I’ve easily delegated many things to VAs such as finding a website (detective work), contacting specific people, or helping me research resources for how I can get my work in front of other people. Some VA’s that I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with for a long time, and they have helped me move my life forward in unimaginable, untold ways I could never even have predicted when I was first graduating from college.
I’m very indebted to a lot of my VA’s who have been immensely helpful to me, giving of their time and energies. With that said, if you’re thinking of becoming an English teacher, or if you’re just starting out in any kind of career--maybe you’re a newly graduated student, for example-- then I would recommend that you consider hiring a VA for the work you aren’t good at or the work you don’t want to do. This also goes for you baby boomers out there who are considering new horizons in English teaching. Trust me, you don’t have to strain to read those words! You can find someone to read them for you, and still go out with that hot young lass from
Thailand! It happens! And that’s the real American dream, am I right?
Then you can focus on building a life around the things you’re really good at and the things you actually want to do.
And that is my best advice to you as an English teacher but also as a life coach. Now step down 19.99 for my latest book and let me change your life.
Not that I’ve been a life coach before, but these are life lessons that I’ve discovered from my own research on how to solve problems for other people. Now that you’ve read this article, you’re enlightened too! Maybe my next step is running for Dali Lama.
As an add benefit, you don’t have to read countless books that I’ve read to reach these sorts of revelations! You’re welcome! You are already working less while gaining more.
Just remember to, “Hire hire hire!” and make sure you don’t get “fired, fired, fired!”
You don’t have to do work you dislike or are not the best at. Find someone else who can do that work. Focus on your biggest strengths because, honestly in this world, life is too short to not be doing the things you love to do, and plus the money goes to the people who do the things they’re good at, not for the things they’re striving to be better at. Why fight it? Find your passion and turn it into cold hard cash. What a better way to get paid.
Take that, university system! I am no longer a slave to your oppressive system.