We have all been lied to. Sort of. I guess you would call it a half-truth.
Here is the lie: Hard work is the key to success.
Please, please! I know it sounds like I’m blaspheming. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work hard. I’m just saying that working hard is not enough. Hard work is only half of the keys you need and if you only have that one, you will wear yourself out before you ever open the lock.
So what is the other key?
The other key is rest.
Rest is so crucial that Arianna Huffington has said that her business didn’t really begin to flourish until she learned how to rest. Unfortunately she didn’t see that until she fainted from exhaustion, ending up in the hospital with a broken cheekbone and stitches around her right eye.
She is now so serious about the importance of rest that she has not only written a book about sleep, she has created an entirely new business around it: Thrive Global.
“The way to a more productive, more inspired more joyful life is getting enough sleep.” – Arianna Huffington.
Rest, sleep, downtime, daydreaming, play, simple human interaction – All of these are necessary to keeping our bodies healthy and our minds as sharp as they need to be to make great decisions, find creative solutions, and move quickly when our business demands it.
But when you’re working toward an important deadline, or when bills are piling up it’s hard to convince ourselves of that.
It’s so much easier to just keep working!
I know to people outside it just looks crazy. What is so hard about taking a break? Oh, let me count the ways!
First, when you own your own business, there is so much work to do that it’s hard to find a stopping point. Especially if you were raised, as I was, to work until you’re finished. (When you work for yourself, there is no “finished”. There is only “Walk away from the spreadsheet. Walk away now!”)
Second, taking a break is hard because it takes so much work NOT to work. Even when I manage to walk away, there is a little ticker tape running through my brain: Get back with Destiny about her presentation. Make sure you confirm that lunch meeting tomorrow. Did I send that email? Wait, I don’t think I sent that email!
Thus in the middle of “resting” I take a deep gasping breath and go rushing back to my desk.
But pay attention: the most productive people are also those most devoted to rest. Oprah takes Sundays completely off. Richard Branson starts his day with bike riding or kite-surfing and some family time. Marie Forleo (get this!) shuts down her ENTIRE BUSINESS for two weeks every summer!
Rest can take many forms, but for me the key is to do something that gives me joy, that engages my brain in a non-business way, and that leaves me feeling rejuvenated. I read a poem. I take a walk. I write. I check in with a friend. I do something with my family.
To really really rest, for those minutes or hours or days, I completely disengage from work.
And when I return, it’s amazing how much clearer and more creative and decisive I am.
If you find yourself ending each day frustrated and exhausted, if you push yourself to your limit but still never quite hit the goal, if hard work isn’t getting you where you thought it would, I challenge you to try this “rest” thing.
You never know. It might be the key to your success.
(Tomorrow: tips on bribing yourself to take a break!)
Walking Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels
Two-key Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
Keys on shelf photo Source: skitterphoto.com