I learned an important lesson one evening at a small Midwestern hospital many years ago. I was invited to present a stress-management seminar to a heart-attack support group. As usual, I arrived 30 minutes early to set up. When I walked into the room, the group was already waiting there.
"Am I late?" I asked.
"No, we are early," said an older gentleman. He continued, “Is this going to be one of those stress-management seminars that teaches you to take a deep breath and visualize? Well, we don't want that junk. To get into this group, you must have experienced the paddles being put on you. They nearly lost me three times -- once at home just before the paramedics arrived, once in the ambulance, and once in the E.R.
"Dying is easy: light switch on -- light switch off. It's that simple. I don't want to learn about how to prevent burnout. That's lights-off stuff. I want to know about how to burn brightly. Are you going to talk about that tonight? If so, I’ll stay. If not, I’ve got better things to do this evening."
I pushed my notes aside, formed the chairs into a circle, and shared what I knew about the importance of recreating one's life. I listened to their insights, as we discussed how true change is about wholeness, not parts. We talked about not rearranging our lives as much as establishing new ways of living and working.
Remember: Burning brightly rather than burning out begins when we rejuvenate ourself on a regular basis.