In football, the snap of a ball creates a burst of energy… followed by a moment of rest and regrouping. Sure, the fever pitch that occurs during the action is what’s most exciting to watch. But it’s not the only part of the game that determines who wins and who loses.
As the whistle is blown, the referee winds a forty second play clock that lets both teams climb to their feet, regroup, change out some personnel, and call a play before returning to action. This downtime is when the announcers spew their opinions, cheerleaders rally the crowd, and when the audience at home dashes to the fridge for a refill.
No one off the field is really paying attention to the most important thing that is actually happening: That very short moment when a player purposefully recovers.
Often it’s the ability to recover that sets an elite athlete apart from his or her more average peers. Catching your breath, lowering your heart rate, relaxing your muscles, and rapidly refocusing your brain for the next play doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a concerted effort. The ability to perform at an elite level for the next 20 seconds demands it. The time is now to calm the heck down.
Not even Richard Dent operated at a fever pitch for an extended period of time.
The technical term for this ebb and flow is called sports periodization. Players participate in year-round schedules that cycle between working out and resting. Once a player enters the regular season, those cycles tighten up to a matter of days. Generally speaking, a professional football player knows Monday is for film and weights, Tuesday is a rest day, Wednesday is a full practice day, etc… During the game, these cycles can be reduced all the way down to the seconds between the whistle and the snap.
The ebb and flow of a fever pitch happens in many sports. Tennis, baseball, and hockey are all great examples; resting being every bit as important as exerting. I believe the same holds true for the way we work.
No great ideas come to those who never shut down.
No one’s brain is designed to think about work 24/7. If you just spent the entire night thinking about work, not only did you miss another chance to watch your kids grow up, or to laugh at Jimmy Fallon, or spend time with your spouse, you probably didn’t even finish the work you set out to tackle in the first place. Furthermore, your sleepless night…fretting about the problem… only leaves you groggy the next morning.
“The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.” -Leonardo da Vinci
For some, a nap is the best remedy. Winston Churchill was a known power-napper, as was JFK. Others (like myself) let distractions rule some part of our day as a way to reset our brains before going back to work.
GettingLessDone.com is all about that ebb and flow.
Recently, I’ve had some great conversations with friends regarding work/life balance. I think we all know that it’s important to take a break. I also think we all feel the social and business pressure to ignore our intuition and work “harder,” even if it’s not working smarter.
“I’m so busy” is a badge of honor. It shouldn’t be. Results are what matters, not the work itself.
I have a bad habit of letting work consume me, and this outlet is often my conscious creative effort to let it go. Sometimes “Getting Less Done” is the secret to producing better results.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m just resting here. Let’s snap the ball, and see what happens next.