Blog # 48: Taking Good Care of Ourselves

We can get a lot of mileage out of ourselves or out of the things that we use if we spend some effort on proper maintenance. But if we neglect proper maintenance, a breakdown of some sort is inevitable.

One of the things that I have tried to do over the years, for example, is to take good care of my automobiles. So far it has paid off. For example, I logged over 400,000 miles on my first three cars.

Granted, it is always a temptation to skimp on maintenance. The car seems to be running fine; why waste time and money on a tune up. Eventually, though, when we recommend the recommended service, we will end up paying a lot more in the long run.

What I am leading up to with this analogy is that the same principles apply in meeting our own basic human needs or those of our employees. We can push ourselves and overextend ourselves and over commit ourselves and, at first, it looks like a smart thing to do. After all, our output is up and we are getting a lot more things done. But, eventually, we will have to pay the piper. I speak about this from considerable personal experience.

The story from the world of fairy tales that deals with this reality is the story of the goose that laid the golden egg. The story begins with a dirt-poor farmer who goes out to see if his goose has laid any eggs. He sees something in the nest that looks like a golden egg, but he puts it aside because he thinks someone is playing a trick on him. Eventually he takes the egg to get it appraised and is shocked to find out that it is really gold!

The next day the goose lays another golden egg and the same thing keeps happening every day. By this time, the farmer is growing rich. But the farmer grows greedy. He thinks to himself, “Why wait for the egg to be laid each day? Let me tear open the goose and take out all the eggs at once.” When he kills the goose, he is shocked to see that there are no more golden eggs inside, and now, of course, the goose is dead.

When we take care of ourselves, we can produce just as magnificently as the goose in the story. But, if we push for too much too soon, we may discover that all of our creativity has disappeared.

Over the decades, I have seen this scenario play itself out over and over again, in my life and in the lives of many colleagues. What happens to us may have something to do with the aging process and our denial of the fact that we are no longer able to do everything that we were able to do when we were younger. But what may also have happened is that we were “greedy”, pushing ourselves beyond our limitations. This is nothing but pride and egocentrism.

We all need to find the right balance between nurturing and being nurtured. At least we do if we are interested in being a long-distance runner in life. The sprinters in life explode out of the starting blocks as magnificently as a Fourth of July firecracker. But they fizzle out just as quickly. If we aspire to provide light to the world over a sustained period of time, we are going to have to learn to give

ourselves proper maintenance.

Next posting: Only God is God

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