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CNLP 354: Jo Saxton on How Leaders Fall Into Burnout, How to Come Back from It and on How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress on Your Team


by Carey Nieuwhof:

“You have one body, and your leadership lives in it.” Jo Saxton had a lot to overcome from her childhood, and it caused her to become a driven leader in her thirties. Eventually, her drivenness led her into a burnout so deep she ended up in the hospital.

Jo not only recovered but figured out how to accomplish more by doing less. She explains how that happened and how to reduce the level of fear and anxiety your team experiences.

Welcome to Episode 354 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about the importance of sleep, why he prioritizes it, and offers some hacks on how to sleep better.

Guest Links

Headshot of Jo Saxton

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website

Episode Links


As we all know, COVID-19 disrupted how people relate with one another, and in many ways accelerated the Church’s need to engage with people online. But as we all know, that complicates things. Many leaders have lost visibility into who’s engaging with their church and how they can serve them.

Insights+, from our friends at Gloo, removes the confusion, to bridge the digital gap and restore connection between you and your people. You’ll be able to see who’s viewing your website, know if they’re members or visitors, see where they are locally or nationwide, and then re-engage them with next steps. Gain clarity on your online audiences so you can take action and reach the right people with the right message, online or in-person.

Learn more about Insights+ at glooinsights.com/carey

The Unstuck Group

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the rapid changes and decisions that need to be made right now as a ministry leader? My team at Connexus just wrapped up another strategic planning session with Tony Morgan at The Unstuck Group to clarify where we’re going in this season and how we’ll get there. I can’t recommend their coaching enough. We’ve used them again and again because their practical, proven approach actually works.

If you want to get a taste, The Unstuck Group is hosting an exclusive 1-Day Masterclass on July 30th on key shifts churches need to make because of the Coronavirus. It’s $99, and you’ll walk away with action steps and clarity around what needs to change to thrive in the post-pandemic world. My listeners get free access to Lesson One from the Masterclass Guidebook.

Download your copy and learn more at theunstuckgroup.com/carey


More Than Enchanting by Jo Saxton

The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

Ready to Rise by Jo Saxton

Sleep by Nick Littlehales

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6 Current Productivity Experiments That are Paying Off (+ 1 Fail) by Carey Nieuwhof


1. Who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be

When Jo was growing up, she was told that since she was a Nigerian girl in 1970’s London, she would have to work twice as hard as everyone else just to be equal. She had been dehumanized by society away from her potential. This didn’t go away as she got older.

People told her that she “should” be quieter, or that she “should” go find a good man and do ministry that way, or that she “should” just let other people handle certain areas of ministry. Jo has learned that you can’t let what other people think you “should” be determine who you become. Stay true to how God has gifted you, no matter what other people think.

2. You have one body, and your leadership lives in it

Your body doesn’t lie. Jo and Carey have both learned this the hard way as they each went through their own seasons of burnout. When Jo was burning out, she saw how badly the people in her church needed her, so she kept working more hours. Eventually through insomnia and anxiety attacks, her body began telling her to stop, and eventually, it forced her to stop by putting her in urgent care.

Carey has a similar story with burnout when he didn’t listen to his body’s warnings. Have you? As a leader, the demand on your time and energy is immense. Add on being a great parent and spouse, friend or sibling, and it would be easy to sacrifice sleep, eating healthy, or exercise for the sake of work. Don’t. If you don’t put serious effort into taking care of your body, it will quit taking care of you.

3. It takes a village to make a leader

When you look deep into the stories of the greatest leaders in history, whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or other highly-influential leaders, you see that there was a movement of people surrounding them, making them who they were. Jo has also seen this in her own life.

Jo comes from a very communal culture that is different from the modern West. This communal mindset has taught her that not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to raise a leader. You have probably seen this in your own life and leadership. So today, find a leader whose corner you can step into, and do it.

Quotes from Episode 354

You have one body, and your leadership lives in it. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

Who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be? @josaxtonClick To Tweet

There is a healing even in leading in the way you’re wired. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

I had built my entire life on being twice as good to be equal. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

I was fighting to be equal. Now I know I’m equal, and I don’t have to. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

When you’re dehumanized, you get detached from your potential. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

Leaders, it’s time to know you’re enough. You’re already good enough. And if you know that knowing that truth would change you in some way, then it’s time to let it change you. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

We don’t burn out because we want to. We burn out because of the other things that are driving us. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

You may have great ideas and be a wonderful businessman or a woman, a wonderful innovator, a great creative, but if your body’s out, you’re out. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

I decided where my intensity would go, and rather than my intensity going into endless activity, it would go towards my well-being. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

One of the big challenges in times when everything’s shaken is, ‘What in our expectations can stay the same and what has to change?’ @josaxtonClick To Tweet

A leader without cultural competency is a leader with an interesting deadline. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

It’s just really vital that as leaders, we are culturally cognizant, because not everybody experiences the world in the same way that we do. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

We need people who help us get roots and people who give us wings. @josaxtonClick To Tweet

I would ask every leader to consider, ‘Who’s your village?’ @josaxtonClick To Tweet

The better you sleep, the higher your productivity. @cnieuwhofClick To Tweet

A rested you is a better, kinder and more productive you. @cnieuwhofClick To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 354

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.

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Next Episode: John Eldredge

When John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart came out 20 years ago, it struck a chord that continues to reverberate decades later about the message men and women most need to hear. John talks about his own unsustainable pace, what the internet is doing to our souls, and how to live your life at a pace your soul can sustain.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 355.

CNLP 354: Jo Saxton on How Leaders Fall Into Burnout, How to Come Back from It and on How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress on Your Team

The post CNLP 354: Jo Saxton on How Leaders Fall Into Burnout, How to Come Back from It and on How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress on Your Team appeared first on CareyNieuwhof.com.

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