The Paradox of Rest

The Paradox of Rest

I recently had a conversation with a woman I greatly admire. She shared with me how she had worked hard for many years trying to play catch up with her business to keep her family fed and the bills paid. Even when cash flow was tight she employed the services of a Business Coach. Her Business Coach advised her to take one to two days away from the office to give her clarity and keep her energy alive. She took this advice. It was on one of her days away from the office that she came up with a new business idea. She drove around to various factories to see if they could manufacture her product. Eventually she found a factory that could. Fifteen years later this woman successfully sold her business. To this day she says the best advice she received was to step away from the business to gain clarity.

In Dr Kaufman’s recent “The Psychology Podcast” he interviewed authors Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness about their latest book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. Their message strongly supports the value of taking time out to achieve breakthroughs.

They refer to it as the “Paradox of Rest.”

“The Paradox of Rest is that conventionally a lot of people think rest is a passive act and is something separate from their work,” Stulberg said. “People often think they are sacrificing work when they are resting when in fact your brain and body are extremely active when resting. It is often during rest that physical, physiological and emotional growth occurs. We shouldn’t consider rest as distinct or separate from the work that we are doing but rather we should think of rest as integral to doing good work.”

Stulberg illustrates this by explaining how you make your muscle grow. “To build your bicep, you need to stress the muscle and apply some stimulus such as lifting a heavy weight. If all you ever do is lift heavy weights and never take a rest, your muscle will burn out. It will succumb to fatigue and you could be injured. The flip side is, if you pick a good weight and follow it up with a good rest, your muscle will grow. People like to think their muscle grows when they are in the weight room pumping iron, but that is not the case. The actual growth occurs when you are not pumping the iron but mostly when you are asleep or relaxing on the couch.

Dr Scott referred to this in the context of Anders Ericsson’s 10,000 hours study. Scott said “When people practice, it’s not just that they practice. In fact they have more hours of not practicing. When people talk about the 10,000 hours of practice, they don’t mention the 10,000 hours of no practice.”

The Ericsson study revealed, “The reason a violinist can go so hard and practice with such intensity is because they do rest Brad said*.

The often experienced chaotic roar of your internal dialogue can be managed and drowned out when you give yourself permission to rest. It will gift you the ability to be more creative, more productive and will energise you with greater clarity.

Your Small Act that is sure to have a Major Impact is to actively build rest time into your weekly calendar.

So… next time you think you are not achieving anything when taking a scheduled rest, remember -

“The Paradox of Rest is that rest is actually a key ingredient to Peak Performance”.

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