Checking Our Rest Watch

Paul Heagen Purposeful Leadership & Living Leave a Comment

I’m probably not going to get the new Apple Watch.

I haven’t worn a watch for decades, relying more on an innate, albeit quirky, knack of knowing what time it is – an ability I honed years ago in all news radio when seconds and minutes shared a natural rhythm with the work.

But that’s not the reason I’m not buying the Apple Watch. This blog is not even about the Apple Watch. I know it’s cool, beautiful, inventive. I know it can do a lot of stuff.

That’s the problem.

It’s this notion of persistent connectedness. We’re fascinated with technologies that, sure, have obviously cool and practical elements to them, but make it seemingly impossible to turn off the virtual world for a bit and get back in touch with the physical world, even the one inside us.

This really hit home for me last week hearing Crossroads Church pastorBrian Tome speaking of the need for rest in our lives. Not greater efficiency, productivity and multi-tasking, but rest. Off-the-clock, turn-down-the-noise, sit-on-your-butt, shut-it-off rest.

Sounds quaint. Still, the case for creating rest in our lives is well-supported in neuroscience and in many measures of social and human behavior. It’s a given that overwork (including overstimulation of our brains from streaming, beeping data!) takes a toll – on productivity, satisfaction, health, relationships, the ability to reflect, human connectedness, inspiration, problem-solving… the list goes on, and we know it.

Why don’t we just stop and rest?

Because it’s hard. We feel guilty. Or we feel obligated. Or heroic. Or needed. Or inefficient. We’re not victims here; we easily invite stimulus into our lifestyle choices, accepting that we need to always be plugged in somewhere – totally pegging the needle on the human system’s natural, even primal, impulse to respond to stimulus.

At some point, we get uncomfortable with ourselves in the quiet.

There’s a leadership element to this. Consider what impact it would have if the CEO, owner or managing partner actually demonstrated a genuine belief in and commitment to the role of rest in relation to work. Let’s free think a bit:

  • Vacations are mandatory. No carry over. Not lose it, use it.
  • When someone is on vacation, no cell phone, text or emails.
  • No pay in lieu of accrued time off.
  • No cell phones during the recreational or leisure times of your team off-site.
  • If you’re in business for yourself, tell you clients you are off for a few days of rest and restoral; the good clients will respect that.
  • Instead of just tuition re-imbursement, find ways to support your employees in their hobbies or recreational pursuits.

Crazy stuff? Maybe not.

We have to create space for ourselves if we are to ever serve others and do our work well. We also have to respect the need for others to do the same.

I know there’s a big world out there. But sometimes we need to spend a little time taking care of the one inside of us. Sometimes it’s best to make sure that connection is a good one.

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