Are You Experiencing “Patriarchal Burnout”?


lisa fabrega


Just when we thought our nervous systems might possibly catch a break after two years of intense events piling on top of each other last week, we get hit with the US Supreme Court’s decision. I fielded several messages from clients who were feeling the pressure of being a leader/CEO during these turbulent times. 

A client asked me, “How the heck do you lead a business right now when EVERYONE’S nervous systems are stretched, including the CEO? Everyone is so reactive and understandably upset, stretched to capacity after years of pandemic stress, so I have to be more cautious than ever about what I say because I care. Now add to this pressure that I now constantly have to pivot entire pre-planned launches because some major world event happens every week we have to address. Then pile THAT on top of the regular challenges of scaling my business, leading a team, keeping stressed-out clients happy, AND life stuff that comes up with family and friends! It’s SO much pressure to be a leader these days! It’s exhausting!”

I’ve always worked with CEOs on expanding their capacity, but I’ve never seen leaders under this much strain. 

Right now, the pressure is much greater on us as CEOs to have greater capacity so we don’t seize up (or mess up) when we lead our teams, clients, and communities who look at our actions and decisions during times like this.

It IS exhausting. AND like it or not, it’s also the new reality.  So instead of asking, “when will this be over so I can go back to normal?” you need to start asking yourself, “how can I build the capacity to lead and still grow my company during these challenging times?” 

In the last few years of countless roller coaster world events, I’ve seen different “leaders” respond in one of three ways: 

1) Disappear, go silent or put their head in the sand waiting for the collective outroar to go away so they can feel “safe” to be visible again without saying the wrong thing or having to make a clear stance on the issue at hand 

2) Run around like chicken little using panic and fear to manipulate people into buying their “emergency” offerings or prematurely make extreme decisions that impacted their businesses negatively (over-hiring or laying off too many people, for example) or 

3) Calmly root into their inner wisdom, tap into the right mentors for high-quality support, and calmly lead their teams to pivot and respond to the present moment, continuing to be of service to those they wish to support.

Options 1 and 2 no longer fly in today’s world.  Staying silent or burying your head in the sand doesn’t appear like “neutrality” anymore; it looks cowardly and like you don’t know how to lead or stand up for important issues because you don’t want to lose money. 

And being reactive, overly emotional, or panicking only spreads panic among clients and followers and ultimately makes people feel unsafe around you. It might get you some short-term panic sales, but long-term, it isn’t effective for a long-term sustainable business with loyal, emotionally empowered buyers.

If you’re a CEO who actually cares, you’ve felt the increasing pressure to HAVE CAPACITY to be like the leader in Option 3. Doing this effectively and powerfully WITHOUT bypassing or burning out takes a LOT of capacity. 

While I do work with men and am often invited to lead co-ed team training for larger organizations struggling with capacity issues as they grow, I predominantly support women-led businesses that have predominantly female-identified and diverse teams. I see the pressures women uniquely face in a crumbling patriarchal society that harms women AND men.

If you’re a white, neurotypical, straight, able-bodied woman like some of my clients, you’re feeling the piles upon piles of this pressure, perhaps for the first time. You’ve already noticed you can no longer launch something with pre-planned messaging and ignore the current world crisis by not pivoting. You’re also noticing the pressure not to hide behind “neutrality” and speak up about some of these issues you may not have had to speak about before. All while leading your team and community and trying to responsibly grow your business.

If you’re like many of my clients, who, along with being CEOs, are also women of color, disabled, LGBTQIA, neurodivergent, or another marginalized community, the pile-up of pressure is especially acute for you. Because you already have the exhaustion of dealing with this sh$t for your entire life. And now there’s even more pressure.

How the heck do we continue to increase our capacity as CEOs when we’re already in the throes of patriarchal burnout and more gets piled onto that with every passing day? 

This is the central question Capacity Work™ addresses. Capacity work is uniquely built to support you during times like these.

Want to know if you’re suffering from patriarchal burnout and need support increasing your capacity? Here’s a short quiz:

  • Do you increasingly feel like there’s so much more pressure as a CEO to be leading during this time? There’s always another thing to respond to, another fire to put out, and it just piles endless layers of pressure, overwhelm, or burnout on you and your team as you navigate all these challenges?
  • Do you feel like the more you grow, the more pressure you feel around your visibility or being the face of your brand?
  • Does it feel like you’ve always been visible but now that you’ve reached this new level of your business growth, something in you wants to hide/not be as visible anymore because you’re worried you “can’t handle it”?
  • Are you increasingly concerned about how to lead your team in building their capacity as they navigate these times with you?
  • Do you feel like in these times, there’s so much depending on every word you say, every offer/launch you put out there, and this pressure makes you want to shrink?
  • When current events happen, do you ask yourself, “how does this affect my team, clients, followers, industry, my state/country/the world, and how do I respond to this in a way that contributes vs. harms?”
  • Have you been feeling burnout and keep trying strategic solutions, peer-led masterminds or other “hacks” but aren’t finding the relief you need?

Saying yes to any one of these questions is an indicator that you are experiencing a CEO capacity issue. And capacity issues need much more nuanced support than just hiring a business coach for new strategies or hiring someone to build new systems. 

You might make the mistake of thinking capacity work means “learning how to pile more sh&t on your plate and do more”. That’s not what CEO-level capacity is about.

I often help my CEO clients SIMPLIFY their thinking, communications, decisions, negotiations, business models, marketing, and business structures, so the burnout and pressure DECREASES. Often, building more capacity is about ceasing to participate in certain business models, offers, or outdated boundaries that only add to your overwhelm. And shifting blind spots that cause you to make decisions that only add to your exhaustion and overwhelm.

It’s uniquely tailored to YOU, even in my group programs. The advice I give to my queer, neurodivergent client on how to expand her business into its next level while navigating patriarchal burnout is completely different than the advice I’d give to my neuro-typical, white female client dealing with a chronic condition. Because each one of those CEOs has their own unique circumstances and pressures which need custom solutions.

Capacity work shows you how to leverage your strengths, honor your nervous system AND push your edge (because as a CEO you still have to grow so your company can grow too)… while also showing up consistently and masterfully to lead your team, clients and followers who all look to YOU in this challenging time.

The government or elected officials aren’t going to save us. Patriarchal business models, business advice, and marketing models have only burned us out and overwhelmed us. 

The responsibility now falls on us, the CEOs who lead with their values and who know how to leverage their impact, money, and visibility to move us forward.

It’s no longer enough to have a killer strategy, the perfect funnel, high-value offer, or positioning. We need to know how to show up consistently, market with high value to support our audiences, and continue to generate increased revenue for our businesses during good times and bad. 

I recently spoke with a CEO who’d been hired to turn around a company that had once had a multi-million dollar valuation. Yet that value had tanked due to the toxic bro culture pervading the upper levels of executive leadership prior to her arrival. 

She had to not only fire the entire executive team steeped in this toxic culture but then hire all the right people to replace them, and oh yeah, did I mention her board expects her to return the company to pre-downturn status within two years?

And she’s dealing with this while the Supreme Court takes away her right to choose and raise three neurodivergent children. 

Is this a high-pressure situation with a high potential for burnout? Absolutely. 

But as a result of our work, she isn’t shying away from the challenge or worrying she “can’t handle it.” Instead, she knows she’s the exact person for the job and is enjoying the challenge because she’s got the capacity, tools, and nuanced support from our work together to navigate it all WITHOUT sacrificing her wellbeing.

  • Are you currently the leader you want to/are meant to be?
  • Can you honestly say you have the capacity to be the leader you want to be right now and in the future?
  • Do you have the right-sized vision to be the leader you want to be WITHOUT burning out?

If you aren’t sure how to answer these questions, you are ready for Capacity Work.

If you’re ready to stop feeling the burnout and pressure and want to start feeling like you can handle leading powerfully in today’s new born, I’d love to hop on a call with you and see how I can support you.

On this call, I can assess your capacity, get to the bottom of why things might not be working for you, and we can discuss what 1:1 option would be the best fit for you.

I currently have a few 1:1 spots to work with me that are quite rarely available. We have options to work with me privately, starting at only $5500 (this price will be going up for the summer, so booking it now and scheduling for the fall is a smart idea). 

We are already booking out into the Fall and Winter of 2022, so the time to talk with me about your third and fourth quarter support plans is NOW – NOT after the summer is over. By then, I’ll probably be booked up til next year.

And yes, we have payment plans 😉.

Book a call with me here.