I’ve just spent a week snowboarding in New Zealand’s South Island. My 15-year-old son and I attempted to do seven different ski fields in seven days. We gave it a good nudge and we ended up doing six fields over the week. We only missed one because it was closed due to high winds!



Sounds exhausting, right? I reckon one of the reasons I managed to keep going every day was because of the nature of the sport. The time spent flying downhill is only a small proportion of the total time spent on the snow. A much larger proportion of the time is spent going uphill on the chairlift. It’s ‘forced rest’ after the exertion of going downhill. I’d estimate that only 10% of my time was spent on exertion. The rest was ‘forced rest’.



Granted, I’m a fairly proficient snowboarder. If I was in the learning stages, I’d be burning more energy for sure. Yet, the opportunity to rest would still be there.



I think this is a pretty apt analogy for how we could design how we live and work. In most of the organisations and leaders I work with, this amount of rest isn’t something that happens during normal working hours. It’s usually all ‘on’ from the start to the finish of any given day. The proportion of ‘exertion’ is much higher than what you might experience on the slopes.



The interesting thing about rest is that it doesn’t need to be totally idle. On the chairlift, I’m reflecting on the last run, my technique and my lines. From the elevated height of my chair, I can scan the terrain from a different perspective. I can check out new lines, and how others draw them. From this place, I can reflect and learn. I can imagine what I might do next. I can anticipate and plan ahead. And I can gather my energy for the next run.



Here’s the thing: if you want a resilient, adaptable system that’s built for the long game (and that includes your own personal system), build in the down time.



Now that I’m back from my sojourn, I’m pondering some questions. You might want to ponder them with me:


  • What might happen if we deliberately built in ‘forced rest’ (or perhaps ‘deliberate reflection’) into our daily rhythms of work and life in general?


  • What might happen if we created team cultures where reflection, learning and ‘breathing out’ were a core part of how we worked?


  • How often do you make rest a part of your day? What works for you?


  • What habits and language might we need to manage, dial down, or drop, to make this a reality?


  • What habits and language might we need to adopt?


As part of my research into how we can be more unhurriedly productive, I’d love to hear your stories of how you build in ‘forced rest’ into your days.  Just share below!




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