A New Kind of Training – An Unnoticed Skill: Excelling at Rest

blake-ross-croppedBy Blake Anthony Ross, Lead Front-End Developer

Could you imagine your company’s executive vice president saying, “Take your PTO! We mean it! There’s nothing commendable about expunging unused PTO that can’t roll over.”

Kevin Johnson, our Executive Vice President and COO, recently said that at a company-wide staff meeting where he offered 15+ ways Jackson could meet its ambitious profit and revenue goals for 2016. Is insisting that employees actually utilize all their PTO a tactic you would recommend to reach higher profits and revenues for your company?

We won’t go into the rationale that might motivate such encouragement from upper management, although there are powerful and profound concepts at work behind Kevin’s exhortation that are worth contemplating together. Rather, this series is focused on building our careers and companies by focusing on how we relate to each other at work and the skills that must be refined in order to do that really, really well.

One of the skills, if refined, that can pay astonishingly enormous dividends is rest. Yes, behind this insistence to take our PTO is a deep, powerful comprehension of the reality that resting really well has everything to do with your company’s and your career’s flourishing. Let’s explore this for a moment.

Did you know that it is possible to excel at rest? Or perhaps I could ask it this way: Are you aware that it is possible to rest well, and it is possible to rest poorly? When you consider your own life for a moment, do you agree that some of the things you do to rest may actually help you feel and be more rested than other things you might do?

I’m not talking about sleep here, though that’s a tremendous source of rest, and we could write plenty about that. No, I am specifically talking about the sorts of things we do outside of sleep to seek rest.

Laboring hard in the garden on a Saturday, taking a hike at Paris Mountain or going to the gym may weary the body, but for some it can be exactly what we need to feel replenished, reconnected with ourselves and the bigger world outside our minds and offices. Have you ever gone to unwind with friends (a type of rest for some) and found yourself feeling depleted afterward? (Introverts everywhere fist-pound that one.) And while I know this may seem almost blasphemous to some, have you ever veg’d out at the TV for a while and soon discovered a faint sense of “That was a waste of a day.” or “I think I would rather have done something else,” or simply feeling unsatiated despite considerable media consumption and still craving more media?

None of those examples may resonate with you, and that’s okay. But look away from the screen for 30 seconds and consider yourself for just a moment. When you are hungry for rest, what do you personally do—other than sleep—that really helps you feel a sense of restedness, readied to meet the responsibilities you are soon to return to? Furthermore, can you think of anything you go to for rest that maybe, just maybe, might not really be helping you truly rest like you need to? Think about it!

braveheart_10If I were to have a Braveheart-William Wallace moment where I were on a horse, wearing face paint, clad with the skins of bears I killed with my pocketknife and stapler, riding back and forth in front of every one of my coworkers at Jackson to pump them up about skillful rest, then I might say this:

“My fellow Jackson comrades, I realize that I have a high-contrast farmer’s tan that you can see through these bear skins right now, and I’m sorry! But nonetheless! My fellow Jackson comrades, I want you to rest well! I want you to rest well because you do your job so much better and enjoy it so much more when you’ve been truly replenished! Be not a slave to your own absentminded rest practices and the incessant demands of work! The flourishing of your career and the flourishing of our company hang in the balance! Wise men of old have proclaimed that we must “work hard, play hard, rest hard.” And a dweeby, no-name web developer at the mythologically renowned agency, Jackson Marketing, Motorsports & Events, once wrote that you must rest skillfully. He is a nincompoop in every respect but very right on this one point! When we have rested well, we take the punches of life much better, our thoughts and emotions are more sound, we have more available with which to bless others, etc. And I realize I should never say “etcetera” on a horse! Regardless, I want you to rest more successfully, and stop wasting your precious time on going to things for replenishment that stink at replenishing you compared with other things you could easily choose!”

I’m sure that was the worst horse-riding, pump-up moment we’ve ever daydreamed. So let’s wrap up.

What can you do to rest more effectively? Think bigger than sleep. Is there anything you are doing for rest that just isn’t working like you want it to? This is crucial and worth contemplation and conversation. You may not have the bandwidth to rest more, but all of us can examine our current patterns of rest to find ways to rest better. Have a conversation about it with your coworkers, your spouse, someone close to you. It could be a cool five-minute conversation. Your restedness is worth the attention, isn’t it?

Join me in a couple of weeks for our fifth installment of A New Kind of Training, “Responding Well to Others is a Skill: Defensiveness.” Until then, comrades, train like your careers depended on it!

And take your PTO for goodness’ sake!