First Principles of Burnout


“First Principles of Burnout”

Elon Musk is a smart guy, obviously, he thought a lot about spaceships and rockets and so the first principle for him was…

Why can’t we have reusable rockets and boosters?

So that’s what would radically bring the cost of spaceflight down for him. For example, he likened it to the fact that it was like building a Boeing 747 and using it for one flight and then throwing it away. So the SpaceX concept is basically reusable parts to bring the price of space shuttle to a regional place that sometime at some point, you know, people will be allowed to go into space commercially for maybe not much more than a plane ticket.

So that’s a first principle.

I think first principles as it applies to burnout is really to me it’s like how do you get to the why of burnout. And then, and then what do you do about it.

Burnout defined:

When it comes to burnout, there are different definitions of what that means. It is classically defined as a symptom constellation of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and diminished personal accomplishment at work.  

My personal favorite is the Urban Dictionary definition of burnout as, “…a state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress and frustration; an inevitable corporate condition characterized by frequent displays of unprofessional behavior, a blithe refusal to do any work, and most important, a distinct aura of not giving a shit.”  Yep, that may be me on certain days!

One of my friends, a hospitalist from Texas, prefers to think of it as straight-up abuse of physicians, our abilities and our sense of duty.  I can’t say I disagree. Others have spoken about what physicians endure as “moral injury” and even a “human rights violation”. 

 I really am not married to any particular term.

What is happening is deadly serious.

We, as a profession, cannot continue to work and respond in the same way. We cannot allow the current system to continue without active change by us, for us.

My own definition of burnout is this

The lack of value received by me for effort, aligned (efficiently, mentally, spiritually, physically), resulting in frustration, fatigue, anger, discontentment and depression.   

There are components of devaluing my education, experience, integrity and questioning of my every decision that also act as the grinding stone on me and YOU every day.  Numerous physicians I have spoken with relate that lack of being valued is a significant source of their burnout. 

Demands on time, effort, compliance, work-life balance, mental and physical health and life are endless and increasing. Compensation declines. This combination increases burnout.


No matter how you define it, slice it or what you call it, Burnout stinks. It hurts you, your patients, your family, your health, your mental health, your finances and YOUR LIFE!


Make some time to chat with me to get started back to YOUR LIFE, healthy, happy and fulfilled!

Go to and connect with us to get you the right tools to take action and get to where you want to be. 

Remember, burnout recovery is for you!


Check out more on this on the Video TIP OF THE WEEK: 

→If you’re looking for burnout answers, grab a copy of my new Book:

The Doctor is Burned Out

→Check out my NEW live stream series, Burnout Breakthrough on @JeffMoodyMD.

+ Leave a comment below and let me know what you struggle with and which tip made a difference for you.

+ Share this video with others so they can get the inside scoop.


Have a topic you’d like me to share tips about? I’d love to hear from you!

Jeff Moody, MD, Author
The Doctor is Burned Out: A Physician’s Guide to Recovery Lioncrest Publishing, 2020





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