By Bethany Nicole
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/7/23 – Jim Young is a former corporate leader, executive coach, author, keynote speaker, and professional comedian, so not only is he one busy guy, but he is also a man of many talents. His book explores not only his own fascinating personal journey through burnout to reinvention but also takes a hard look at how society views the cultural phenomenon of burnout, especially as it relates to men.
Expansive Intimacy explores the rules of masculinity that force men into a false choice: either face shame by embracing their inner desires for meaningful connection or invite burnout by following the harsh rules that require men to shun emotions and emphasize achievement. “As I began writing this book, I realized that I was attempting to take on some big topics.” Jim states, “It’s a project that unearthed a difficult revelation that told me I had struck a root cause of men’s burnout.” That certainly is a big concept, and this book presents such important topics and conversations especially in our contemporary societal climate, that we were thrilled to get a chance to give it a read.
We also had the opportunity to sit down with Jim for a one-on-one interview and were able to tap into his insights on how burnout is affecting so many of us and what we can do about it. While the book does focus on men’s experiences, the overarching themes and concepts, Jim feels, are certainly inclusive of all demographics, and we can’t help but agree.
Shame In the Workplace
The 2021 Workplace Burnout Study, a global survey of more than 3,000 people in over 30 countries, reported a burnout rate of nearly 35% of all workers. One big aspect of that burnout culture that can make it so incredibly prevalent and isolating is the shame around disclosure. The concept of the Shame-Intimacy dance really sticks out, because even beyond the perimeters of burnout, it is a concept most of us can relate to. Revelation is the bridge between shame and intimacy, yet it is one we are all so hesitant to cross.
Jim and I got to discuss the Shame-Intimacy Dance during our interview, and we empathized that many of us have had an experience where we have revealed something personal, only to have it thrown in our faces or used against us later. So, I asked Jim how he felt that revelation could be safely done, especially in a work setting.
Jim opened up on the issue, explaining how not everybody has earned the right to hear our story and that it’s important to use our gut to help seek out and discern the people who have. In the workplace, he discussed that it’s important for leaders and higher-ups to create a culture where revelation is accepted and encouraged, and employees are open and honest. If a workplace however is very competitively based, with the push to always be better than others, that is a situation where the workplace itself might be toxic and therefore not worthy of a revelation.
Signs of Burnout
Another common question is how a person knows that they are heading for burnout versus say just being in a rut.
Jim discussed how in his personal journey, there was a sense of everything feeling “so heavy” that it led to isolation, withdrawing, and feeling like he wasn’t really engaging with his life. Many people report feeling like they are simply going through the motions with no real joy in their life. Numbing also becomes part of people’s routines, especially with substances like alcohol. We discussed how all of these things are warning signs pointing toward a serious case of burnout.
Jim also elaborated that when a person feels unhappy for too long and feels like they are “compromising values” it can be a big neon sign of burnout. Which is such an interesting concept. In society, we tend to think of “hard work” as being a value but at what cost to our other values? Our sense of integrity, actual fulfillment in our work, our connections and relationships with our friends and family, and our responsibility to ourselves to enjoy and live our lives. Often the concept of “hard work” alone can compromise all of our other values, and that is when someone can begin to see that they are out of alignment and headed towards burnout.
Jim reveals that the good news is that once a person recognizes their path to burnout, they can turn it around with what he calls, “Expansive Intimacy”, thus the title of the book. Expansive intimacy is the kind of intimacy that promotes growth and expansion, as opposed to shame and seclusion. Jim calls “expansive intimacy,” a time-tested way for men to achieve a happier life–without giving up what makes them successful as men. That coupled with Jim’s formula for fulfillment can help lead people back from the isolating experience of burnout and towards a life they love. Jim uses the equation Scary + Interesting= Growth as a navigational tool to help lead the way.
The book is certainly a relevant topic for today’s workplace culture, so we had to give it a read to see what insights it could provide. Here’s what we thought.
Expansive Intimacy Hollywood Times Book Review
Expansive Intimacy is the book we all need right now. In a time, rife with toxic masculinity talks and a push to be the best no matter the cost, this book is essential in bringing a voice to the silently suffering.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Jim’s own story. He discusses having a complete life reset at the age of 45, moving to Chicago, and pursuing a career in comedy. The book helps readers create a completely different concept of true success and provides actionable steps to build a life around that concept. So many people are going through life resets post-pandemic, that this book could be essential in helping figure out for many, the answer to “what’s next?”
What I loved about the book is that it not only helps identify burnout, it provides solutions. The book is very empowering in that sense, as it gives actionable steps to pulling out of burnout and redefining the terms of our own success. It gives insight into what leads to burnout and what we can do about it once we’ve found ourselves there.
While the book is mainly aimed towards men and their experiences, it is certainly accessible to all. Everyone can take something away from this book to use in their own life or to help better understand the burdens of the men they love. It provides insight behind the curtain of the often difficult-to-decipher mind of a man, to see what motivations, pressures, and stigma might be leading them toward burnout. Right under our noses.
The book really takes the time to explore all aspects of burnout culture and all the factors that can lead to it. It takes a hard, honest look at how we as a society have gotten here and what we can do about it now that we are.
It’s also interesting to note that although the book looks at many aspects of workplace burnout, it also dives into how that can affect private relationships as well. Expansive Intimacy is about creating personal connections that help make life meaningful, which is another hot topic in contemporary society, especially dating culture. Jim touches a little on that concept as well, citing his personal experience post-divorce, in forming new bonds and connections using the concept of Expansive Intimacy. Basically, if you want to discover how to make your life and loves infinitely deeper and more fulfilling, this book is for you.
Overall, this book is exactly what we all need right now. Readers of all backgrounds, demographics, and life stages are going to walk away from it with something useful in their own lives. Jim is a brave voice in the new frontier of healthy masculinity, and we definitely feel like he is one to watch, and this book is one to read.
Check out the book and see more about Jim on his website www.thecenteredcoach.com and his LinkedIn.