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Mark Gorkin, LICSWMark Gorkin, LICSW
A Blog about reducing Stress in our lives.

The Six "R" Road to Burnout Recovery - Part V: The Final "R"s - Relating and Risk-Taking

Mark Gorkin, LCSW ("The Stress Doc") Updated: Nov 11th 2013

5. Relating

When it comes to relating, there's no overstating
Some key tendencies and gender-related trends:
Such as "fight or flight" versus "tend and befriend."
The first, the thrust is "win-lose" survival
The other breeds trust and the communal.
Number one extols needs individual
The second explores interests reciprocal.
Of course the ideal weighs the situational
Mixing assertion and cooperation…
The groundwork is laid for collaboration -
Where a win-lose duel of analysis and emotion
Morphs as a duet of give-and-take negotiation.
Now a dialogue trip may yield partnership:
That which is mutual becomes the most meaningful.

Key Personality Energy Source

To grasp the relational, there's another key variable:
What is a person's energy source?
Is extraversion the vital force?
When you get high from external stimuli
Perhaps you're most hearty when the life of the party?
Or is introversion more your persuasion?
Actually, it's not a case of being shy, more
Do you inner jog when in dialogue
With images and ideas of the mind's eye or
When neuro-soul connecting with a kindred gal or guy?
Of course, it is best to diversify:
Anyone for intro- and extra-ambidexterity?
Can you radiate energy that shows sensitivity
To the vast spectrum of human personality?

To Relate Like a Pro

So what does it take to relate like a pro?
Simple, quietly ebb; have good questions flow
After listening with care, pump enriched 02 air
But be aware: for every suggestion, four thoughtful questions
To dilute assumptions and clean up confusions.
A 4:1 equation shows respect for the person -
You affirm and explore the other's perceptions
Without building a pedestal or bestowing a medal.
(And, too, acknowledgement does not mean agreement.)
So let go all-knowing soldier; time to stop pushing the consuming boulder.
Let another be strong; even be wrong…
Put the gun in a holster; it's your turn for a shoulder.

Develop Passionate Poise

Be poised in your passion; know what's in fashion
Still survey within, embracing the tension:
When to conform or disrupt the system?
So blend a warm heart with mind lasers and smarts.
Accepting uncertainty without much hesitancy
A person of action, while not quite a saint
You shun indecision while accepting restraint.
In pursuit of self-knowledge, with service a privilege
Yet still on the edge: you still can let go and grow with the flow!

Relating Like a PRO

However, there is one sure thing that I know
"The Stress Doc's Four 'R's for Relating Like a PRO."
Let's begin the show with the letters P-R-O:

"P" stands for an approach that's "Professional" -
Verified knowledge and standards most ethical.

"R" signifies a relation "Reciprocal" -
Not based on control or who's the most vocal
Suspend "Rank & Role"; "Helmet's Off" is the goal.
For the greater the stake, the more give and take.

And "O" means an "Ongoing" connection
A past-present-future relation
Back and forth action along with reflection
Upon conflict and error and time to do better
Surviving together all kinds of weather
Not just for solution, more for trust evolution.

The Four "R"s of PRO Relating

We are set for the PRO Relating Four "R"s
How to stand tall amidst big and small wars:
Be Respectful-Real-Responsive-Responsible
Even when it appears oh so impossible.

Be Respectful

The first "R" rises up for "Respect"
Yet it doesn't mean one must genuflect
Or to be all wide- and starry-eyed…
Hungrily feeding on another's self-pride.
The respectful foundation: pay careful attention
Moved by compassion or for comprehension
Of a lived experience which then helps make sense
That timeless web - another's past, present, and future tense.
Taking in a worldview and framework of emotion
Makes even the deviant seem much less fearsome.
And when confused by "to be or not to be"
You are allowed to respectfully disagree!

Be Real

The second "R"…just try to be "Real."
Reveal an integrity seal, before "let's make a deal"…
Just speak from the heart, heed your inner voice
You can stand apart; you do have a choice.
Now when engaged by conflict or clear danger
Do not be seduced by the slick
Find common ground with the stranger.
As for fury unsound, it may not long last
Though it still might confound:
"Why so often drama in my life cast?"
Alas, the past as background is never quite past.
So attend to all wounds but do not overly linger…
Try remaining steadfast in the face of such anger.

Finally…in a battle with one who is rude?
No need for a Hatfield and McCoy feud.
Consider the source; brood on the loss…
When an admired dude falls from that high horse
Or a wizard nude hides behind a curtain of fury and force.
Avoid the remorse of "at any cost." Remember…
Their only recourse: face- (and butt-) saving attitude.
This does not mean there can't be a "Real" pact
Where matter of fact upgrades with some tact.
Still, the "Keep It Real" maxim for friends and foes:
Do know your limits, don't limit your "No"s!

Be Responsible

Now for "R" number three...take "Responsibility."
Put aside false humility and prove your dependability.
To be responsible means living on a bubble:
You have impact; you can cause trouble
You have impact; you're there on the double.
Being responsible, you're worthy of trust -
You know when you must; and will also adjust.

The Triple "A" Begins with Authority

And for productivity along with give and take community
"The Triple 'A' of Individual & Organizational Responsibility":
Blend Authority and Autonomy along with Accountability.
And a bonus of this Triple "A"…greater mind-body Resiliency!
Problem-solving skills and give-and-take capacity -
An uncommon bond of knowledge and empathy
Oft built on trial and error sagacity…
My three pillars of personal Authority.

Next Is Autonomy

The second "A" provides Autonomy.
Over-control is false economy.
In a job or profession there should be discretion
For making decisions, for sharing a vision
That may lack precision or need revision.
When retreating or advancing, there must be some dancing:
When "Autonomy" and "Authority" ebb and flow with fluidity
As you trust your gut in the face of "yes, but"
It's easy to see the double "A" legacy -
A learning lab for "Resilient Responsibility."

Finally Accountability

Now to close our trinity - professional Accountability:
People are most accountable
With standards high yet achievable.
And for one and all, there is a clear wall
Between what is and is not acceptable.
Also, to be an accountable leader
No need to be especially clever
Simply two basic tactics to know
Devices to check any ego:
When it comes to success first look out the window
When it comes to failure, first look in the mirror.

Be Responsive

The final "R" is "Responsive."
Your psychic antennae are emotionally sensitive.
Whether with a grizzly bear or a skittish deer
Relax the mouth; put ears in gear.
Now as you listen you don't just hear…
Your head and heart become aware:
Each may not be what they appear.

For more ramparts to disappear
Do help others speak of fear.
One way to know that you are near
The well-defended let down their hair.
While not intended, and surely rare
When others sense you truly care
Even a soul may be laid bare.

More Responsive Steps, Songs, and Shoes

Don't just respond with good news
Let folks know you can sing the blues
And will also walk in another's shoes.
Shedding tears like you are peeling onions
You more than walk…you feel their bunions!

Another way to be responsive: weigh what you give
With what you get; shed those pounds of old regret.
And my closing helpful suggestion
Akin to paying "respectful" attention
Discover values, beliefs, and perceptions
Don't rush to judgments or assumptions.
Better provide enriched oxygen -
Fill the air with "I-Thou" questions.

6. Risk-Taking

And the final "R" for "Burnout Recovery"
Learn to develop a "Risk-Taking" strategy.
Here are four steps for surviving and thriving
When you're engaged in on the edge living
Forever smoldering is not forgiving.
Struggling with restive ideas at an uncharted border -
Creative Risk-Taking: The Art of Designing Disorder:

Step 1. Aware-ily Jump in Over Your Head

High anxiety comes with the territory
When landing with awkward uncertainty.
While there may be some initial dread
Take a few breaths…quiet that voice in your head
Focus on rapid learning, instead.
Try saying a prayer or trusting your gut
The opposite of risk - being stuck in a rut.

Characteristics of Productive Risk-Takers

While you may want to confess
Actually, it is time to assess:
How do expectations square with reality?
Ready to handle learning curve vulnerability?
Can you convert anxiety to laser beam energy?
As for skills and resources: do you have all the horses
For jumping through hoops, for running obstacle courses?
Still admitting gaps without playing "Taps?"
(Hey, focused risk-taking is not shooting craps.)
Finally, can you maintain basic composure
In the face of your "Intimate FOE" -
That long dark shadow…Fear of Exposure?

Step 2. Strive to Survive the High Dive

Now that you have jumped in
Don't make it "lose versus win."
You're a learner, not a loser.
So consider this uncommon mantra:
Strive high and embrace failure.
You'll never have to run from a mirror.

Either Learn to Fail or Fail to Learn

Rethink what it means to fail
Were you chasing the Holy Grail?
Failure no longer is a scarlet "F"
Forever leaving you feeling bereft
A tattoo of shame one can never erase…
Imagine failure as a transitional space
For recognizing what you cannot see
For leaning on others so you can be
For giving old voices the third degree
For fighting convention and assumption
For discovering steely determination
To close the breach, seemingly out of reach
Between current position and true aspiration.

Placing Failure in Time Perspective

Of course, it's not just a matter of rhyme
Embracing failure will take some time.
Consider these two slogans of war
For sorting the chaff, for probing the core:
1) Founding a beachhead, no matter where you stand
Is not the same as securing the island.
2) Many battles are fought and lost
Before a major victory is won.
So do not run…but do reckon the cost.

The Stress Doc's TLC

As you swim and tread to who knows where
Please don't forget to come up for air
Taking time out for mentor or peer
With whom you will play "Truth or Dare" -
One having the courage to fill your ear with
Tender Loving Criticism & Tough Loving Care!

Step 3. Thrive on "Thrustration"

You may well need a definition
For the provocative term - "thrustration."
You start thrusting ahead with direct action
Yet are also blocked by sheer frustration…
For despite hours and hours of examination
You're unable to grasp a vital solution.

Transforming "Thrustration"

So how to deal with static transition?
Change your powers of concentration.
Don't simply plow one track through
Nor multi-task…what else is new, better
Let go for a time…gain a fresh point of view:
Go for a walk, dig in your garden
Play in the park, visit an aquarium…
To escape the dark, sleep on the problem.

From Volcanos to Vacations

A restless brain that can take a rest
While appearing to lie fact is a psychic volcano.
Percolating pressure finally finds a fissure
Begins spewing molten images and text
Putting an intelligence to a head and heart test:
Should you save ashen trees in a burning forest?
Can you mind meld conscious and subconscious
See the obscure along with the obvious
While planting the devious inside the harmonious?
Rhyming rhythms explode when a mind races furious
But needs ice blue melancholy to cool red hot folly.
As dreams and memories flood a mind-field
Crystalline nuggets - the uncommon yield.

So in the face of "thrustration"
Take an "incubation vacation" -
Hatch new perspective; rekindle imagination!

Step 4. Design for Error and Diversity; Discover Collaborative Opportunity

To cultivate error and broad opportunity
Challenge consistency, question necessity…
Why not explore wide-ranging possibility?
Wander and flounder through a sea of ambiguity
Discover species and spectrums of rainbow variety.
Create a living and breathing coral reef platform
There's not just one chief in this evolving kingdom.
While there is repetition; this niche extolls variation
In singular fashion, each designs and pursues their life and death mission.

The Renewed "R and R": Recycle and Recombine

For the essence of nature is the big picture
That comes alive in a complex eco-structure.
Where predator and prey only survive together…
If one disappears it's like losing a brother.
Each needs one another, and not just to dine
In the recycle of life, parts must realign
By taking the time to renew-recombine
Whether "Shrink Rap" ™ or "Psychohumorist"™ as a signature sign
Or transforming the simple into echo-system sublime.

Who Is More Survivor Fit: The Competitor or the Connector?

Of course, on the surface - mortal competition
Yet underlying innovation - fits and starts…then gumbo garden profusion:
Ivy webs of intersection scale rigid walls of "protection"
As ideas crawl under and wind round speculation.
The time test of true fitness…long-term cooperation.
(Well beyond the scope of this congressional generation!)
For our Mother wisely weaves a paradoxical vision:
Where death and decay help generate reproduction
Such bizarre flora and fauna…can there really be a relation?
Next, deviation "unnatural" - a flexed fin or talon
Compels the surreal - a crisis in adaptation
Now the key to survival: advantage natural selection!.

Painting, Dancing, and Bursting with Chaos and Order

Or take Earth Mother's brilliant representation:
When the days shorten, there's still compensation.
For as nights become colder, sun light fades so much sooner
Still mourning lost summer; not ready for winter
Nature's magical lever - cran-apricot maples sparkling with color.
Might time running out prime risk-taking valor?

An eternal dance between chaos and order
Leaves time for chance; keeps open the border
To the science and art of "designing disorder" -
Putting things together that you'd never oughta
There's no room for b.s. - "be safe" - it's an hourglass decision:
Parts must morph into partners to transcend division
It is Her aspiration - the ebb and flow of creative destruction…

Natural and Mystical Union

An explosively silent conflagration, then sculpted erosion
A Grand Canyon's blue ribbon; mind-blowing revelation:
All nature's creatures share unbroken union -
Beyond words mystic and out of body telescopic
A world microscopic mirrors the celestial epic
With random leaps periodic; we need some chaotic
For that atomic to cosmic, circle of magic Mandala connection.

Returning to Earth: A Closing Proposition and Passage

So stay clear of the fixated or ideal goal
Too often the allure of short-lived control.
Beware one who drowns out the voice of reason -
A sweet siren illusion in the depths of confusion.
When caught in a bind, don't throw patience to the wind.
Random replication may seem like a grind, still
A parting of the heavens not just lucky sevens
Helps lightning strike that most prepared mind.

So consider this pithy proposition:
When chance connection follows perspiration
Taking time for incubation and risking exploration
Ecstatic inspiration may seed down to earth innovation.

Finally, despite previous damage or serious baggage
A risk-taking adage to help navigate passage -
From burnout recovery to enlightened buoyancy:

Errors of judgment or design rarely consign one to incompetence. They more likely reveal inexperience or immaturity…perhaps even boldness. Our so-called failures can be channeled as guiding streams (okay, sometimes raging rivers) of hard-earned opportunity and experience that ultimately enrich - widen and deepen - the risk-taking passage. If we can just emerge ourselves in these unpredictable roiling though ultimately rejuvenating waters.


Mark Gorkin, LCSW (

Mark Gorkin, the Stress Doc ™, acclaimed Keynote and Kickoff Speaker, Webinar Presenter, Retreat Leader and Motivational Humorist, is the author of Practice Safe Stress and The Four Faces of Anger. A former Stress & Violence Prevention consultant for the US Postal Service, the Doc leads highly interactive, innovative and inspiring programs for corporations and government agencies, including the US Military, on stress resiliency/burnout prevention through humor, change and conflict management, generational communication, and 3 "R" -- Responsible, Resilient & Risk-Taking -- leadership-partnership team building. Email for his popular free newsletter & info on speaking programs. Check out his popular website -- -- called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). Stress Doc Mantra: "Think out of the box, perform outside the curve (the Bell Curve) and be out-rage-ous!"

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