Prince Harry and Serena Williams On How They Deal With Burnout

Burnout is real. Just ask Serena Williams or Prince Harry.

The tennis champion and the Duke of Sussex opened up about their experiences with burnout during BetterUp’s Thursday Inner Work Day event. BetterUp is a leadership coaching company, which the royal joined last year as chief impact officer.

Their conversation boiled down to a common theme: doing the “inner work” of building resiliency can help you stave off burnout. It’s a concept that extends to realms far beyond the tennis and royal courts. Entrepreneurs–especially after living amid a pandemic for two years–surely feel this too. And everyone knows employees are definitely feeling it–even though burnout isn’t their biggest reason for leaving a company during the Great Resignation, it’s number two. 

Prince Harry shared that he “was burning the candle at both ends,” explaining that once your time starts slipping away and other commitments pile up, self care is one of the first things to vanish. That’s why it’s important to maintain some semblance of consistency with inner work. BetterUp defines inner work as a practice of looking inward to your authentic self and experience and taking time for the things that ignite your passion, creativity, and innovation. What that looks like will range from person to person, but it may involve setting aside time for mental-health activities like meditation or self-reflection. 

“Mental fitness is the pinnacle, it’s what you’re aiming for,” he says. “[But] the road towards that can be really bumpy, it’s called inner work for a reason.”

The royal knows that he needs to meditate every single day, something that Williams admitted that she could probably do more. 

Williams says that her form of meditation is different and that she simply shuts off her brain. She shares that she’s very intentional with how she structures her schedule, setting aside “me time” to offer breathers throughout the day.

“You have to pace yourself because burnout is real,” Williams says. “And if you don’t believe that, then you’ll experience it.” 

Williams adds that if you’re not mentally healthy, you break down physically which invites more injuries and starts a waterfall effect. 

“In order to be at that championship level, it really all starts in the mind,” she says. “And it starts with working on yourself internally.”

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