I didn’t run at all last week. Well, that’s not exactly true: I ran an ultra-marathon; 36 miles along the magnificent coast of Ireland.
But the week leading up to the race: I didn’t run. (It’s what runners call the taper.)
It made me pretty crazy.
Not running screws with my mind: Who am I if I am not running? Will I get fat, weak, out of shape? Will I fall down the slippery slope into some roiling vat of Crisco or Krispy Kreme?
But maybe that’s not exactly true either.
Because success – real success, sustainable success – requires both doing and not doing.
And often, it’s the not doing that actually empowers us to do.
It’s incontrovertible that rest and recovery are essential components of peak performance in athletics… Not doing is critically important in the repair of muscle; in the recovery of tendons, ligaments and bones; in the re-balancing of hormones and body chemistry; in the recovery of our nervous system and mental state.
But rarely do we apply these principles to our businesses and our careers. (Or our lives for that matter!) We like to think (pretend) that they don’t apply to us; that we’re different; that we’re macho; that we can muscle through.
We keep going like hamsters on a wheel; 24/7/365. Always on; always connected.
We don’t stop; we don’t rest and recover. We never taper.
And then, of course,
- Productivity drops
- Stress soars
- Decision fatigue creeps in
- Mistakes multiply
- Morale plummets
(Oh, and relationships get damaged and marriages unravel and our children grow distant and our health deteriorates and we forget why we were on the wheel to start with.)
But just a few tweaks can change up the entire game for you:
- Sleep more. There is no more powerful tool for rest, recovery and peak performance than sleep; and most of us aren’t getting nearly enough.
- Create some white space in your calendar; time between obligations and commitments that you can use to get a breath of fresh air, take a short walk, drink some water, listen to a bit of relaxing music, read a chapter in a book.
- Hydrate. Drink water. Often. Throughout the day.
- Take a mental health day (or half) day on a regular basis; step away from the work; and get off the grid.
- Take your vacations. All of them. And make them real vacations. (A working vacation is not a vacation.)
When you embrace the science; when you take the time to nurture yourself; when you allow yourself to rest and recover; when you give yourself permission not to do; when you can see – and believe – that not doing is doing; then… then you re-create yourself; you come back stronger; you get to perform and serve at an even higher level; and make an even greater impact in the world.
I showed up at the staring line of my race (battling my demons of depravity); and ran the 36 miles; and crushed my previous times.
Sure, I trained. But training (and living) means doing… and not doing.