When I coach high performers, one of the hardest things for them to do is relax. They are so tied up in performing that they can’t turn it off. The result, after a while, is a loss of emotional balance and a weakened work performance. When we talk about it in their coaching call, they start to identify the issue (“I need some time off”).
In Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the very last one is called the “Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal.” More commonly, it is known as Sharpen the Saw. The metaphor he uses to explain this is straightforward. If you were cutting down a tree, it would be much easier with a sharp saw.
What we don’t often think about is the four dimensions of self-renewal. On a holiday weekend, there is a perfect opportunity to experience a little of all four.
1. Spiritual Renewal.
In the U.S., we have an opportunity to reflect on gratitude. What was your part of remembering gratitude on Memorial weekend? What are you grateful for and how will you show it? Can you spend a little extra time this week contemplating all that has gone right in your life so far this year? Who will listen as you share those perfect feelings?
2. Physical Renewal.
Food is a part of your holiday weekend. Holidays are also some of the highest alcohol consumption days. While the consumption binge is briefly satisfying, we also get an opportunity to catch a little extra sleep, relaxation time, and (for the food guilty) even some exercise.
3. Social/Emotional Renewal.
With time away from work, you have an opportunity to spend more time with our family and friends; you can renew familial bonds and friendships. Sharing a meal is more than breaking bread. You also share the bonds made and strengthened over the table.
4. Mental Renewal.
When you take the time to slow down, you can spend a little time letting your minds wander in some new directions. You catch up on the news, daydream, plan without pressure, and maybe even catch-up on some list making and office cleaning.
While these four areas all seem unique, they share a common trait: you can only engage in renewal by being proactive. When you are driven by the urgent, renewal doesn’t happen.
Ask yourself a simple question: Do I really need a holiday to sharpen my saw? Obviously, you don’t have to have a holiday. You can establish a habit by building time in your schedule for renewal. This doesn’t mean just thinking about it. Unless you build the time in your schedule, you won’t set the time to break your old habits. Ironically, the one that most people don’t take seriously is mental renewal. We schedule time off; we have vacations. What most people don’t do is schedule time for mental development.
- When is that last time you took a class to improve your job performance?
- What are you scheduling on a regular basis to develop new skills and attributes?
- How often do you talk with outside business acquaintances without trying to sell them something?
With a three day weekend just finishing, you’ve found time to do a little sharpening. I know I did. But don’t stop there. What are you doing to sharpen your saw this week? Month? Summer?