Day 23: Watch “Don't Be A Superhero” and summarise your thoughts and own experience

Today, watch the talk “Don’t Be A Superhero” by @alihill and share your thoughts. Ali defines a superhero as someone who is always willing to go the extra mile and is seen as the go-to person for any problem. He argues that this type of behaviour can lead to burnout, which is harmful to both the individual and the team. Ali goes on to emphasize the importance of raising awareness about burnout and taking steps to prevent it.

Task 23

  1. Watch the talk: Watch the “Don’t Be A Superhero” talk and pay attention to the speaker’s experiences and insights.

  2. Reflect on the talk: Think about how the speaker’s experiences and observations relate to your own professional journey.

  3. Summarize your thoughts: Summarize your thoughts and impressions of the talk. Write a concise summary of your key takeaways from the talk. Include any personal reflections or connections you made between their experiences and your own.

  4. Share your own experience: Take the opportunity to share your own experiences related to the superhero mentality or burnout in the workplace. Reflect on instances where you may have felt the pressure to be a superhero or observed its effects on yourself or others. Discuss any challenges or consequences you have faced as a result.

Why complete this task?

  • Awareness of the superhero mentality: The talk will help you understand the challenges and pitfalls of being a “workplace superhero.”
  • Understanding the impact of burnout: The talk will help you understand the detrimental effects of burnout on productivity, well-being, and overall health.
  • Personal reflection and growth: The task will help you reflect on your own experiences related to the superhero mentality or burnout in the workplace.
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I’ve suffered from burnout before and if you allow it to go on for a long period, recovery can take years. I identified strongly with this content. I want to my managers to know that if I’m given a task, I’ll complete it well and work hard. But, a line must be drawn between busy work and impactful work. I’m still trying to find my own personal formula for rest, work, learning, and side projects.

The takeaway that I valued the most was his reduction of external learning time from 20 hours a week to 2.

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I liked the summary statement about reflecting back on work at the end of our life - career achievements will mean something (certainly for me) but it won’t be about the overtime, weekend work or begrudgingly digging our employer out of a hole.

Maybe 3-4 days a week, evenings or weekend, I try to improve my technical competency - this is usually in a work context (eg implementing an automated check for a feature or refactoring some existing code) so it’s a ‘two-birds- one-stone’ situation, but I’m comfortable with that.

What I do not do beyond my true working hours is ‘normal’ tasks like preparing for a meeting or responding to emails, and I turn off notifications while doing the tech learning stuff.

My employer does encourage X days of training / self-learning time but it’s taking some discipline, and persuasive influence from me as a line manager too, to encourage people to set time aside for this and to not simply say “I’ve got too much work to do” - learning something does take some commitment and discipline!

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Burnout is a big problem. It keeps you out for a lot of days. The struggle is real.

It’s so good to read your last paragraph. If people at leadership levels encourage this what else is needed?I always wanted to see this.

We live to work.
We don’t work to live.

I remember a Dalai Lama’s Quote which says Man sacrifices his health for money and uses the same money later to build his health.

Covid made me understand so much about it. I don’t overwork and self-care is my priority.

Happy living below the means or using old stuff but will never impress anyone.

Very interesting talk.

I personaly haven’t feel like burnout because i’m trying to keep a meter as far as my working hours is concerned. I always do a plan and try to follow it as close as possible. Unexpeted issues may put you out of your plan and this is main problem i thing. I believe that ‘super heroes’ exist only in movies and in reality you have to try to keep as healthy as possible by keeping a plan, sticking on the working hours and not beyond them and just saying no when you feel too tired to work properly.

Here’s one to share with your colleagues: this powerful message from @alihill.


Loved that post its really important to create some healthy limits to your work life balance.


That was an excellent talk, and one I completely agree with.

I have medical reasons not to work overtime, but I’ve also felt for a long time that if people are routinely working large amounts of overtime and being rewarded for it, there’s something wrong with that company’s management.

The unspoken (and sometimes spoken) expectation that people will do “whatever is necessary” to meet the business goals is in my opinion a toxic aspect of workplace culture. It doesn’t help that those in customer service positions are caught between keeping their workplace experiences sane and providing their customers with the best experience possible.

It’s good to see someone willing to stand up and openly say that the superhero mentality is bad, that praising someone for pulling an all-nighter to get that release out the door is encouraging dysfunctional working habits.

I’d have to go digging to find the information, but there is a point past which a worker’s productivity becomes negative - the cost in time of fixing the mistakes they make is more than the value they generate by the work they do - which for programmers and testers kicks in somewhere around ten hours. That is, any work done after ten hours in a day is going to have enough fatigue-driven mistakes to be worthless. (I don’t remember the actual numbers, but as I recall it was an average, and the average useful time per day dropped the longer the long working days kept up. Would that someone could shove those statistics into the face of companies known for death marches).

I’m so thankful my current employer does not do superhero behavior or death marches.