Four burners

Prompt: Discuss the “Four Burners Theory”. Which burner in your life burns the brightest? If you had to completely turn off one of your burners to be successful in the other three, which would you turn off?

Huh, that was a really interesting theory. So every person has four burners, one each for family, friends, work and health. You can’t have them all running hot at the same time. You can have them all running at a low level, or turn one or more off and therefore turn the remaining ones up.

I can definitely see how it could be right. I find it interesting to look at some of the people I’ve known and apply it to their lives. For instance, two of the managers I’ve had definitely had their work burners turned up waaay high. They had their health burners on medium and their family and friends burners off. Both had wives and children, but neither devoted any time or energy to them. Work came first, health came second.

Whereas one of my previous colleagues had his health burner turned way up, and the other three on low. None of them off, but he’d found ways of managing them. For instance, he played sport with friends, worked with friends, thereby managing to combine some energies and resources. But health definitely came first for him.

And another colleague had her family burner running hottest, followed by friends on warm and work on low.  Another female colleague had family hottest, followed by work, with health and friends off.


So how does it apply in my life and those of the people around me? My family burner is my hottest, but it’s not maximised. It can’t be, while I work fulltime. And I’ve worked fulltime since my son was one year old and only took three months maternity leave with my daughter. I can’t say I’ve devoted my life to my family at the expense of all the other burners. But family is very important to me, and does burn hotter than the others. Work is probably second. And I guess health and friends are off. Which I suppose is how I manage to have a fulltime job but still run the family burner the hottest? I will never achieve my potential in my career, partly because I’ve always had to run and pick up the kids after work or stay home with them when they’re sick, and partly because I haven’t had the energy to devote to work because I’ve devoted time and energy to my family.

Yes, my friends burner is off. I don’t have real life friends. My closest friend lives in another city and we see each other once a year. We spend our weekends, etc., with family.

My husband’s work burner is running pretty high, and always has been. But his family burner runs pretty hot too. Which means his health and friends burners are off or effectively so. He is trying with his health, but not very effectively, so you could maybe say that one’s on real low.

My sister turned her work burner off (quit work) so she could run her family and friends burners hotter. Family and friends are definitely her focus. But that’s only possible for her because her husband runs his work burner hottest, followed by his family burner. I don’t know how many friends he’d have if she wasn’t cultivating and organising them for him. I suspect their health burners are off, but who knows?

My mother’s burners were work and family on medium, health on low, I think, until she retired. By turning the work burner off, she then was able to turn up the other three, so now she has the family, health and friends burners all on medium, which I think she loves.

Yeah, it’s a really interesting concept. Quite fascinating.  What burners are you running hottest, and which have you turned off?

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