Let’s focus on the 3rd and last of the Physical Energy Habits: REST.
The Secret Shame of High Performing Road Warriors
I recently read a story regarding an eighty-four-day mission aboard the Skylab space station in the mid 1970s. About half-way through the mission, Colonel William Pogue requested a day of rest from mission control for his overworked and exhausted space crew.
Now, this seems like a no-brainer request and one that should’ve been done may days earlier.
What happened? NASA refused his request. They told them NO!
Now, I’m sure it was one heck of a view, but when you’re exhausted and want – need to rest, that’s the only thing that matters. No shock but the crew went on strike in space, a first of its kind. Disobeying orders, the crew took a space sabbath.
In response, ground control was forced to change their policy. High-Performing road warriors can produce, there is no doubt about it. The amount of productivity and results that come out of a high performer is impressive. Crank it out and getter done.
Most road warriors simply don’t see the toll that not resting is doing to them physically, mentally, and emotionally over the long haul on the road. Or at least not yet.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 40 percent of all American adults are sleep-deprived, clocking significantly less than the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep per night.
According to Terry Cralle and Dr. David Brown, over 70% don’t get a full night of rest to perform at a high level.
My assumption, since this used to be me, is many high performers sleep far less than seven hours of “quality sleep” on a consistent basis and simply don’t stop to rest. It’s a necessary evil.
The reality is, many high-performing road warriors’ secret shame is… They don’t know how to rest.
This is my confession. I’m Bryan Paul Buckley. I’m a high-performing road warrior, and I don’t know how to rest.
It’s also the confession of many others. Maybe even you right now.
We’re in this together if we’re honest (and just too tired to talk about it). We’re good at pretending that everything is good. And who will question us with the results we’re putting up?!
I feel like a high-performance car that continues to put in cheap gas, avoids maintenance, and wants a repair as quick and as cheap as possible. Just get me back on the road, man!
Can you relate?
The reality is, many of us are interested in how to work better but few of us know how to rest better.
The focus here is on REST or the lack thereof.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, in his book appropriately titled Rest, states,
We view rest as a physical necessity or inconvenience. We see work and rest as binaries. When we think of rest as work’s opposite, we take it less seriously and even avoid it.Rest is not work’s adversary; rest is work’s partner.They complement and complete each other. You cannot work well if you don’t rest well. We underestimate how much good serious rest can do for us. And we also underestimate just how much we can do if we take rest seriously.
Go, Alex – you could not be more spot on for the Road Warrior.
As a result, here are four inner thoughts that accompany the secret shame of high-performing road warriors:
1. We Minimize Rest
High-performing road warriors are highly skilled at minimizing anything that slows them down. We say the following comments:
• Rest is a waste of time.
• I don’t really need as much rest as everyone else.
• I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Sadly, when we minimize rest, it often results in mentally belittling others who do rest. We judge and when we do, we feel better about ourselves as a result. Been there, done that?
I know there are more people out there doing this than just me. Our time is valuable on the road and our schedules are packed, so it’s easy to minimize our rest. But is it the best for us?
2. We Avoid Rest at All Costs
High-performing road warriors have a unique gift of always being busy. Every moment is calculated and used to produce results, not to slow down.
As a result, we’re always on the move. We act like we’re allergic to rest. Sadly, we fill our schedule so rest doesn’t even have a chance. Now, I’ve mastered this one. I can fill my time to push rest out of even the realm of possibility.
Who can question me with my results? Our time is valuable on the road and our schedules are packed, so it’s easy to minimize our rest.
But, is it the best for us?
I’ve personally paid the price for it by physically crashing and losing more time with the crash than if I had just rested in the first place.
3. We Justify Rest as Optional
I can tell myself half-truths all day long about why rest is optional for me.
Here are some of my go-to road statements:
• I have too much to do to rest (which ironically is my choice and I could choose to slow down and the world would not end).
• It’s my current season of life on the road but it won’t always be this way (but I’ve made it my way of life, not a season of life).
• I’m fine with what little rest I get right now (yeah, because I don’t know what being fully rested actually feels like).
The irony is no one seeing our “on stage” sees the mind games we play “backstage or off stage,” nor would they really care. They may even like us better if we were rested and not so driven all the time. Imagine that.
I love how Michael Hyatt puts it, “The more tired I am, the dumber I get”
And many times I get more dumb as the business trip goes on, and on, and on.
4. We Fear Rest
The truth is, many high-performing road warriors are afraid of slowing down.
Whoa. Now you just got personal. Here’s some truth syrum on my end…
I’ve come to the point of realizing just how much of my identity has been deeply found in my ability to produce results on the road.
I can’t produce results if I’m resting, right?
But that flawed and even arrogant thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, I can rest; I’ve just not wanted to slow down.
I asked at a heart level, why am I not stopping long enough to truly rest? I was first asked of a good friend of mine, Val Brown, then worked through this with a counselor, Dr. Nick Howard.
This must be answered to become an elite road warrior and man did I wrestle with this question:
Why am I not stopping long enough to truly rest?
The work will ALWAYS BE THERE. Just because I finish THAT report, THAT presentation, THAT email, it’s not like it stops. It JUST…KEEPS… COMING.
I took this question of “why am I not stopping long enough to truly rest?” very seriously and this is what I found out…
I was afraid of what I would find if I slowed down. Here is my truth of why I feared rest:
- Would I be viewed as average or like “Everyone else”?
- Would I still be needed?
- Would I be replaced?
- Would I like what I found when I slowed down and reflected on what was truly important to me?
When we define ourselves by our work, by our dedication and willingness to go the extra mile, then it’s easy to see rest as a negation of those things. If your work is your identity, when you cease to work, you cease to exist.
This was the truth I needed to face. I had to come to grips with why I was so driven and why I feared rest. Learn from me, road warrior.
I didn’t know how to slow down, unplug, relax, and truly receive the deep benefits of rest.
It simply came down to this simple revelation for me:
I know I need to, but I don’t know how to rest. Not knowing how to truly rest is my secret shame and the shame of many high-performing road warriors I’ve met. This is solvable.
But the first step is accepting we don’t know how to rest.
The key word is HOW.
Rest is challenging enough at home with a consistent schedule, but the road is a completely different animal.
It is absolutely vital to your success in becoming an elite road warrior who is performing at the highest level in his work, health, and home life while on business travel.
I hope the rest energy habit wakes you up (literally) so you can become the elite road warrior you have inside of you.
Let’s breakdown the Energy Habit of rest that has three major aspects:
1. Sleep – Think Better Sleep (quality) then More Sleep (quantity)
Let’s start with improving your sleep before we increase your sleep. You’ll learn strategies, tactics, evening rituals, etc. to maximize your sleep on the road.
2. Breaks – Move the Body, Rest the Mind
Most do the opposite. It’s possible to take a short, strategic break on the road that super-charges your energy
3. Downtime – Time to Be, NOT to Be On
This may seem like an extreme luxury but it’s possible and when you do MAKE time for Downtime, you will see incredible results.
I love this quote from Alan Felding in his book, An Unhurried Life: “Good work only grows best on the soil of rest.”
So I hope you can rest this week. And learn HOW to rest.