be!

We must *be!* before we can do.
Match or Candle

be!

Somewhere in the not-to-distant past, there were these 2 guys. Recently graduated from their respective universities, they were ready to jump into the workforce and begin their careers in advertising. Both had considerable creative talent and were looking forward to making their own contributions to the industry.

Match was dynamic, outgoing and very talented. He began his career in a flash of creativity. One project after another was met with amazing insight and thought provoking solutions. He worked long hours and never complained. His work gained immediate recognition and his name was spreading throughout the advertising world as an up and comer!

Candle, on the other hand, began more gradually. He too was talented and excited about making his mark. He listened and learned and became more and more confident in his own abilities. Each new assignment was an opportunity to improve his skills and provide more valuable input. His work began to get noticed and he found himself on a slow, but steady rise in success and satisfaction.

As the years went by, both Match and Candle became well known for their creativity and contributions. But the paths they took looked very different from each other. Match was finding it harder and harder to maintain a balance between his life and his work. He often could not separate the two. The rapid pace and intense pressure of his lifestyle began to take a toll. He experienced periods of sleeplessness and depression. He couldn’t get through a day without a constant steam of coffee and tobacco. And he’d changed antidepressants several times just to approach a sense of normalcy.

Candle was no stranger to stress or pressing deadlines. When long hours were required, he would work them. But he also built important routines into his life. He made time for rest and refreshment. He turned down many opportunities to get involved in worthwhile activities. Not because he didn’t want to participate, but because he knew his limits. Candle valued his creative talent more than recognition. He valued his ability to contribute consistently, over the long haul, more than trying to please everyone. He knew that his relationships—family, friends and coworkers, grew more and more precious as time passed.

In the end, Match burned out. The quality of his work declined. His ability to contribute dried up. Eventually, no one remembered his name. Candle continued to contribute at a high level. His work increased in quality and importance. He mentored many others who had gone on to make valuable contributions. His life was fulfilling and many counted themselves blessed for having known and worked with him.

Do either of these stories sound familiar? Does one sound MORE familiar?

The Power fo Being
In his book, The Servant Leader, author James A. Autry says, “This is not a trick or a gimmick. This isn’t a technique. It’s not even a process. It is a conscious choice about how you choose to be and about how you choose to live your life…” Autry is making the point that one can’t do the right things if one does not first decide to be the person who can do the right things. Match never had a chance to find the right balance of life and work. Why? Because he chose to be a match and matches, by definition, burn out. It didn’t occur to him that he could be anything else.

But he was wrong.

For more on “be!” checkout my book, Burnout Sucks!

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