Since getting his business degree nine years ago, Larry has been the model hard-charging executive bound for the top. After the 28-year-old joined a consulting company, he was quickly promoted to a position with loads of responsibility, a company car and an enviable income. Along with the fulfilling tasks came constant travel and 60- to 80-hour workweeks, including meetings on weekends. But he did not mind. Occasionally it occurred to me how stressful the job was, he says. But I really got a kick out of it. For a long time, it was lots of fun.
Until the day he ended up in the intensive care unit. Larry collapsed right outside the door to his apartment, with a terrible headache, a racing heart and vertigo. At first I thought I had had a stroke, he recalls now, a year later. But the doctor's diagnosis was different: burnout syndrome. The consultant was sick from years of excessive toil.