Last blog, Tortoise or Hare, Which Discipline do you Follow, we discussed three fundamental principles for sustaining high performance. Let’s look at the first principle, that we cannot expect growth or improvement in any dimension of our lives without intentionally and regularly challenging our current capacity.
If we fail to challenge our bodies and minds regularly, they quickly atrophy. It’s really the same theory of when you’re hot your hot, or use it or lose it. Work as well as exercise is improved and increased through bursts. Building strength is an interval exercise, characterized by successive waves of energy expenditure and renewal. The key is that we must work ourselves to the point of going beyond what we’ve previously done, or what we believe we are capable of in order to exceed that in the future. The stress that comes with high demand isn’t the obstacle; the real obstacle is the lack of intermittent recovery. Tony Schwartz points in Be Excellent at Anything it’s in renewal – not exertion that growth occurs.
In order for you as a leader to improve you must continually push the envelope on your leadership skills. Comfort is the enemy of improvement. Jim Collins in Good to Great pointed to good being the enemy of great. The same is true here about our personal and business development. The moment we become satisfied we begin to atrophy.
One of my sales managers said it best, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot!”
If you’re not growing the question becomes are you challenging yourself? Have you placed yourself in a position where you are unable or refuse to get out of your comfort zone? That’s where the obstacle is. If you’re the leader you need to put yourself in a position to constantly challenge yourself.
If you feel that you’ve done that, and in fact that you’re constantly facing challenges as if it’s a revolving door going a hundred miles an hour, then the next question is whether you’ve given yourself time for recovery? Recall that it’s in renewal, not exertion that growth occurs.
Muscles grow after they’ve been stressed and given time to repair and heal. Have you given yourself time to recover? You need rest so when you come back you’ve grown and increased your capacity and capabilities.
This kind of thinking and recognition will actually help with the next obstacle and challenge you face. Framed in this context you can actually welcome stress as a growth opportunity – provided you find the necessary time to recovery following it.
There’s more to share from Be Excellent at Anything. Monday in our monthly Gazelles Coaches meeting we heard from Driving Excellence author Mark Aesch on how the public sector applies Rockefeller Habits to make dramatic improvements. Plus I’m interviewing Multipliers co-author Greg McKeown this afternoon. Much to share in the coming weeks!