Wellness Pathway #259 The Work-Rest Balance

Professional athletes know their math, at least when it comes to T = W + R. That’s the magic formula for anyone who wants to be truly successful. And it may also expose what grandma missed when she insisted that, “Practice makes perfect.” Practice, practice, practice does not make perfect. It wears you down and burns you out. But T = W + R builds you up and turns you on.

Have you figured it out by now? Training = Work + Rest. Too much work causes as many problems as too much rest; but when we strike the perfect balance between the stress of exertion and the recovery of rest we end up performing at the top of our game.

Unfortunately, in sports as in life, people too often err on the side of either overtraining or undertraining. I see this all the time in running. People start training, they start improving, and then they start training harder. Maybe they set a stretch goal for themselves of running a particular race in a particular time. Then they really bear down. They practice, practice, practice, without letup, until they injure themselves and can’t run at all.

Don’t let that happen to you. To go from “a little is good,” to “more is better,” to “all the time is best,” is to ignore what we know about maximizing human performance in life and work. Real progress is made only when we push out and pull back in a healthy rhythm of work and rest.

This concept lies at the heart of Jim Loehr’s and Tony Schartz’s excellent book, The Power of Full Engagement. “Nearly every elite athlete we have worked with over the years,” they note, “has come to us with performance problems that could be traced to an imbalance between the expenditure and the recovery of energy. They were either overtraining or undertraining in one or more dimensions — physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.”

“Both overtraining and undertraining have performance consequences that include persistent injuries and sickness, anxiety, negativity and anger, difficulty concentrating, and loss of passion. We achieved our breakthroughs with athletes by helping them to more skillfully manage energy — pushing themselves to systematically increase capacity in whatever dimension it was insufficient, but also to build in regular recovery as part of their training regimens.”

Does this wisdom apply to more than just sports? You bet. “Too much energy expenditure without sufficient recovery, in any facet of our lives, eventually leads to burnout and breakdown. (Overuse it and lose it.) Too much recovery without sufficient stress leads to atrophy and weakness. (Use it or lose it.)”

Are you working so hard that you have no time for personal renewal? Are you doing so little that you have no energy for personal exertion? Then you are on to the connection between work and rest, time and energy. All work and no play may be the way of the world, but it is not the way to peak performance. If you want to perform to the best of your ability, then you may need to modify the cadence in your life between work and rest.

Coaching Inquiries: Are you out of sync when it comes to the work-rest balance? Do you need to push yourself harder or rest more in order to play at the top of your game? Who could you get to review your schedule and to talk through your strategy? What adjustments could be made this week that would make your life great?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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