The revelations we uncover during our self-development process truly fascinates me. Since flying the nest and leaving school, we are suddenly met with the need to navigate the rest of our lives solo.
Cue: self-help books, online webinars, and coaches.
2020 was of course a transformative year for all of us. This was the year I experienced the brilliant guidance of author, mentor, and executive coach, Reena Dayal.
One of the (many) eye-opening revelations I took away from my coaching with Reena was exactly how rest could serve me professionally - and the subject matter I want to share with all you fellow Type-A high-achievers with the holidays right around the corner!
For years and years, I'd have a co-worker trying to pull me out of the office on a Friday night, a friend texting me to come to the party, or a boyfriend getting me to meet them on a date.
I am not shy or a recluse, but I am a workaholic who honestly has an extremely large capacity for work. And I love it. (Did I mention I'm also a hardy and reliable ram-like Capricorn?)
So, interestingly, all these years when I'd refuse or delay these calls for social fun, it wasn't because I loved self-torture or had low self-esteem or felt too guilty to leave my desk (although I'm sure this is how it seemed to all my friends, family, and co-workers), it was actually because they didn't know me well enough to understand how to motivate me in the right way.
Look, I've had some epic nights out. The wig collection from NYE parties and photographic evidence of me on yacht parties in Cannes will attest to this.
As fun as these things are, I believed they were a bit of a waste of time and that I was sacrificing other activities for the sake of making memories. (As lovely as that is, of course!)
What Reena Dayal opened my eyes to during our coaching last year was that rest and fun and play could actually - wait for it - make me even better at my job?!
Hold the front door.
All this dilly-dallying drinking frosé in the sunshine or swimming in the sea or exploring museums or attending an art show could all be beneficial for my career?
When I understood from a neurological perspective that these activities served as a workout for other parts of my brain - as opposed to doing "leg day" at the gym every day - and enriched my perspective as a creative, as a leader, and as a problem-solver, I understood a whole new level of appreciation for those eager attempts by friends to pull me away from my desk on a Friday night.
You see: rest from doing what you habitually do - which, for most of us, is spending too many hours in front of the laptop - truly gives you ALL of the following:
No good idea ever came from a meeting room. In interviews with the highest-performing executives (like Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, Nike founder, Phil Knight, or British business darling, Richard Branson), they all cited the best ideas actually came from outside of the office. On long walks in nature. Admiring a painting in a museum. Pruning the shrubbery. Or in the shower.
Whether you are a creative, a leader, an entrepreneur... We are all problem-solvers in one way or another. Bringing new ideas to the table is a valuable currency in today's business world, when there are automations and tools at our disposal for the mundane, repetitive tasks.
The real value we can add as humans in this tech-centric world is on that creativity we can contribute - the fresh thinking, the innovative solutions, the new ideas.
It's so easy to get sucked into the day-to-day. Especially if you're an operator, if you care about the details, and find a natural tendency to just get "stuck in." But by simply being too close to something, we can quickly lose all sight of what really matters.
By lifting up your head even just once in a while, you are reminded of a whole other world that exists beyond your laptop. It makes it easier to view challenging aspects of your job with much less serious-ness, and helps you remember what really matters to you in life. The bigger picture.
To pick up the fitness analogy again, a good workout regime is a balanced one. One that works out the legs as well as the upper body. One that's fun as well as challenging. Thanks to our wonderful mental health movement, we're starting to appreciate that our brains need the same level of care and attention we might give to our bodies. How we work it out, how we nourish it, how we take care of it, etc.
So, as human beings, the time to properly rest - including disconnecting from technology, practising certain personal rituals, incorporating meditation, and re-connecting with nature - are all absolutely vital to recharge our batteries.
I like to think about how easy it is to run to a charger to plug in our phones when they run out of battery. Why don't we apply that same level of care and importance to our own physical and mental wellbeing?
Happy holidays guys xx