I’m learning how to embrace downtime as an opportunity to build myself up. Rather than looking at it as idle time, I’m learning to trust that (just as with in the gym), strength is built during the recovery phase rather than during the workout.
Recently, a friend commented on my sense of determination, labeling it as being one of my most defining characteristics.
I am determined. I know and like that about myself. Make a plan and give 110%. All. The. Time.
Eventually (and inevitably) I crash. More often than not, hard.
While I began to embrace this ‘less is more’ mentality in the gym a while ago, I’ve only recently come to the realization that this ‘the harder the better’ mentality as a leader isn’t at all necessary, in fact, it’s more often than not detrimental.
Bringing about change involves pushing outside of your comfort zone, and pushing outside of your comfort zone requires a lot of energy. Just as you can’t run a marathon at your 400 meter pace, you can’t lead sustainable change working full-out all the time.
Picture this; you’re battling your bike up a hill. You’re standing, powering yourself forwards with all that you’ve got. Your legs and lungs burn. Your head is down and you’re focused solely on getting to the top. Nothing else matters.
When you reach the peak of the hill you let go and fly down the other side, allowing physics to drive for moment. You catch your breath and then, at the moment where momentum alone is no longer sufficient to continue powering you forward at a desirable speed, you re-engage your legs and start working your way up the next hill.
This hill, although it may be steeper than the last, is manageable because of two factors; not only are you physically and mentally recovered from your last push, you’re able to use power generated by the last hill to help you tackle this next obstacle.
If you were to choose to peddle frantically down the hill you wouldn’t gain anything. Rather, you’ll tire yourself out for the next hill or, worse yet, crash and have to re-start your assent from a dead stop. Taking this approach, you’d most likely tackle fewer hills and hence would have fewer opportunities to develop the needed strength and stamina to successfully navigate your course over the long haul.
Leading change is no different. The road to your goal is never a flat course and to reach your destination you’ll have to repeatedly battle your way up many hills. Rather than race frantically from one challenge to another, you need to take time to recharge yourself physically and mentally. You’re still in control and on course to achieving your goal, but you have a few moments to recover. A few moments to breath, to look around you, to reflect, to adjust your plan if necessary.
Then, at that critical point when momentum is no longer carrying you forward as fast as you need it to be, you re-engage, ready to tackle the next hill.