Because of my being a speaker, I have the opportunity to travel around the world teaching public speaking, presentation and media skills to elected officials or those who would like to be. When I was speaking in the Middle East a while back, I was training some dynamic up-and-coming young women who were seeking a seat on their local council and one day at lunch I noticed that one of the ladies was reading a book of poetry by Rumi, a Persian poet and philosopher.
It struck me as unusual that someone would be carrying around a book of ancient poetry, and, so, being a good visitor, friend and teacher I asked about her book and what she was learning; the reply was simple. “Well, Miss Deb, for me to grow beyond myself, I need to know what others say and think and then decide for myself if their words are good for my soul.” Hmmm, I thought, pretty profound for a young lady who is looking to make her mark in the world.
And then she went on to extol the words of the ancient sage and encouraged me to learn about him and to discover the wisdom of the ages. So I have, and in my study I have come across quite a few reflective sayings that I have grown to appreciate. One is my topic for today and it is from Rumi who said, “Set Your Life On Fire – seek those who fan your flames.”
Set Your Life On Fire – seek those who fan your flames. There is so much in that simple phrase. I could talk for days about the truth that lies within.
But, in our time together, let’s talk about you and those you associate with who should be fanning your flame for succes
As a coach I see at lot of people who at one point in their lives set their hopes and dreams on fire and were supported by friends and family and co-workers to succeed; they worked very hard to make good things happen, and it was a joy to see how their success has opened doors for them to be who they were born to be and do what they were born to do. And on the other side of the coin, I see those who were on fire but did not have the support to help them push through to the end, and their flame burned out and all that was left was a puff of smoke of what could have been an amazing life.
You know life is funny like that. You start off with such hopes and dreams, like the ones I hear from all the kids who are graduating this year. The world is their oyster, they have the world on a string, they see themselves as presidents of corporations and masters of industry and I hope and pray that they continue to burn bright once they land their first job and begin their path to success. My hope for the kids of today is that they set their life on fire and do their heart’s desire.
Now, those of us who are a little older and wiser and who remember those days of enthusiasm for life and love and opportunity, let’s commit to fanning the flames of this generation, so they can achieve their dreams. Do not be the person to throw cold water on their parade. Be kind enough to let them find their way. Be strong enough to fan their flame for success, and be committed to helping them along their journey.
I’m pretty sure many of us are doing our life’s work because someone loved us enough to fan the flame, once we set our lives on fire. And that’s the key, because, remember, you are the only person who can set your life on fire. You have the final say on what you’re going to do to change your world. You are the only one who can step into the light and shine when you let your life, hopes and dreams catch on fire and burn bright until you reach your final destination, whatever that may be.
I am mystified when I see amazing people who set their life on fire and then partnered with those who quench it. I see it all the time, and it makes me angry, I’ve got to admit. Whether it’s someone who demands you give up your dream for theirs, or someone whose heart’s desire is to go into ministry, military or missions and everyone says no, or whether someone finds great joy in working a job that does not pay well but fills their life with joy and their friends belittle their position, because it is not impressive enough. No matter what it is, it is heartbreaking when I see a life on fire be drenched with cold water to douse the flame never to light again, because you’ve partnered with those who quenched your fire.
And you know what is so sad is, when that happens, I meet empty people living hollow lives because the joy is gone – their spark has gone out. I spoke about that a few weeks ago, about people whose lives have become dull, because they are just going through the motions of life with no real life being lived – the lights are on, but no one is home.
Ah, friend, that is not a way to live. You’ve got to figure out what it will take to strike a match to relight your fire, even if you have to do it alone. And, trust me; there are worse things than being alone, like being alone with someone. It is heartbreaking, and I see it all the time, because someone demanded that they had to marry, they had to take the job; they had to move to another place. Together but alone will kill your flame faster than any polar bear plunge ever will. Because not only will you not be on fire, they won’t help you fan your flame for success.
I’m not sure what has put your fire out, but I do know that you are the only one who can relight it. And then you need to surround yourself with friends who will fan your flames, because if you stay with your loser group of friends who have no interest in helping you grow and be and become, then you’ve set yourself up for failure, because they will never fan your flame. And good luck with relighting a flame that is constantly blown out by others.
Now, don’t blame others when your fire is out or only flickering with no real warmth of success. Well, I guess you can blame others, but you and I know that this is cop-out, because if your fire is barely burning, only you can pour on the gas to light it up – you can’t expect others to know how to help you get going, when you’ve allowed your flame to die out. Friend, that is your responsibility, so stop blaming others. I am so worn out with all the stories of bad marriages, unkind parents, loser friends and bad business partners or anyone else you blame for putting out your flame. They didn’t put your flame out; they just didn’t fan it for your success. Be honest, you let it die out, because sometimes it’s easier to just be average. (That’s impressive.)
I know for many, at one time, friends and family did help fan the flame, but now they don’t and no one really knows why, and that’s okay. It could be that their lives have taken different turns and fanning your flame isn’t a priority and, although that is disappointing, you really can’t blame them, since it’s not their responsibility to set you on fire. You’re responsible for your flame, your life, your light, and, while you’ve been waiting around for someone else to light your fire or fan your flame, it burned out. So, now, you have to make some choices.
My hope today is that you choose once again set your life on fire, because you have so much to offer others with your wisdom, your knowledge, and your insight and expertise. You have so much to give back that would be of such help to others, if you would just recall the warmth of the flame you let die out. You have so much to teach others about living a life on fire, as you fan their flame for success.
Imagine, if you re-set your life on fire, you just might be the guiding light to others who have lost their way. Your life on fire might be all that is needed to encourage others to do what they were born to do. Your life on fire might be the light at the end of the tunnel some people need to see to gain strength for their journey.
Your life on fire could change everything for you and others. And if you’re strong enough to fan the flame for others, you might change their world, and who knows, when they catch on fire, what good they can do for others…all because you lit the flame.