It was our regular Monday morning staff meeting and my team was assembled around the conference table. I opened by saying we were cancelling the seminar I was currently touring the world with. Sherry, my vice president was taken aback. She blurted out “That seminar brings in 80 percent of our revenue right now.” “I know, and I don’t care,” I replied. “If I have to do another seminar about how you get a prospect’s phone number, I would rather stick a fork in my eye.”
I was done. Burned out. Burnt to a crisp.
I ended up selling the entire product division of that company and retiring. (It was my first mid-life crisis, exactly on schedule at 40 years old.) My new life was supposed to involve racing my Vipers, playing softball and, of course, drinking out of a coconut. That lasted nine months before I was once again in a state where sticking a fork in my eye would be preferable to another day of my existence.
I got back in the game but did it on my terms. Instead of teaching marketing techniques and trying to sneak the principles of prosperity in the side door, I decided to speak and write exclusively about manifesting prosperity and success. I was reborn, revitalized and reenergized.
Ten books, multiple projects, and countless speeches later, I again was facing burnout. (This resulted in the sabbatical mentioned in the last post.) And it took this second stalemate to recognize the truth about burnout.
The first time, I felt the burnout was because I was trying to give more than I had. But that wasn’t true. The second time around I reached the epiphany that burnout actually only comes when you are trying to give something you don’t possess.
But the epiphany of the epiphany, the sudden and striking realization – was recognizing that when you give something that is created within you – the supply is infinite.
Take a look at the Melisizwe brothers in this performance below:
Do they look like they would ever get burned out creating beautiful music? Highly doubtful. Now if they have overbearing parents who force them to perform and they would rather be playing soccer, designing clothes, or studying insects – or they get forcing into grueling tours, exploited by the music industry, or living someone else’s dream – of course they’ll end up in burnout. We all would.
But that’s the point…
When you find something that you are truly passionate about, when it springs forth unbidden from your very essence, you can never get burned out with it. I once asked Placido Domingo what drove him to perform more than 130 different roles. (Most world class tenors play three or four roles they’re famous for and do nothing else.) I thought maybe it was a case of Placido seeking a greater challenge. His answer surprised me at the time. Today it makes perfect sense.
“It’s nothing to do with challenge,” he said. “I have passion for the music. And even if I lived three lifetimes, I could never perform all the music I love!” That music springs forth from the very essence of the maestro.
For me, currently exiting my fourth mid-life crisis, it’s all about zeroing in on that work that comes from my essence, the books I have to write before I die, the podcasts no one else could deliver, the work that I can’t not do.
If you’re facing burnout, the questions to ask are:
• Is the work you’re doing truly your path, or did you follow the path someone else laid out for you?
• Is your work something you’re truly passionate about?
• Does your work come from the very essence of who you are?
• Is what you’re doing something so strong that you can’t contain yourself if you’re not doing it? That you would do it for free even if no one would pay you for it?
• Is the work so gratifying, challenging and stimulating, it has no lid, no limit? It is a gift that you have an infinite supply of.
Love to know your thoughts below. Peace,