I’m a farm boy—or at least I grew up on a tobacco farm. I really wasn’t good at farming. Too much waiting on things I had no control over. On a farm, you have less control than you may think. So I went to college and started my career.
Nothing new except I kept missing the farm—or that’s what I thought. It has been more than forty years since I lived on the farm. What I missed was the pace of life, but I didn’t understand that.
Everything is about seasons. You can’t put in extra hours of work and cause things to grow. You have to plant seeds in fields, water and fertilize them, and then wait for them to germinate. And wait and wait…for something to happen. I don’t like waiting. I’m not very good at it. In fact, I really suck at waiting. I don’t like lines, haircuts, dental appointments, going to the bank, or airlines. Just not wired to wait.
But waiting is an important part of productivity. Some years, there were fields we would not use for growing because the soil needed to rest. When I was young, I didn’t understand why, so I asked my dad. He said that letting the fields rest made them recharge and become more powerful for plant growth.
Since learning that, I realized that we have an inner world that controls our outer world. Thanks to Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s epic book, Psycho-Cybernetics, I have begun to appreciate the need to rest and recharge. I once read an article on author Malcolm Gladwell’s famous “10,000-hour-rule.” You may have heard the part about it how it takes thousands of hours to perfect a skill like writing, music, or even golf. Well, maybe not golf. I don’t think Tiger Woods would say he has perfected that frustrating game. The golf course is the only place in the world where prayer does not work.
Anyway, the young, brilliant students mentioned in the 10,000-hour study did something many don’t know about. Once they had spent six hours or so every day perfecting their skills, they would rest. Yep. Do nothing—but rest or play. Apparently, goofing off was as important as putting calluses on your fingers practicing the violin for endless hours straight.
Another article I read said that most heart attacks in America occur around nine o’clock in the morning. Must be the morning rush hour in Los Angeles. The article went on to say that there is a small group of people in America who rarely have heart attacks—our Jewish friends. It seems, in their culture, they are taught to not only rise early but to ease into their day. They do this every morning by swinging by the synagogue to pray, sing a few songs, and chat with their friends. By the time they hit the office to conquer the day, they’ve had a recharging of sorts.
I’m not Jewish, but I do practice something similar and have learned to steal a little from my early farm life. Like my Jewish friends, I wake up pretty early, at around 5 a.m., go to my lanai (that’s a back porch in Florida), and talk to God as I understand Him. I listen to a little music and read something positive that I’m interested in, and then I head to the shower. So far, it has worked for me. I’m still around after fifty-eight years—and no heart attacks, thank God.
I’m not sure how insane your work schedule is, but I work six days a week and do nothing on Mondays except goof off. This way, I remind myself that recharging is as important as working…and even God took a day off!
If we learn to step back, slow down, unplug it, and recharge, it might be the most important activity to our success. Lance Whitt, in his amazing book Replenish, says there are four R’s involved in recharging:
Rest (sabbatical). We know we should…we just generally don’t.
Reflection (retreat). Get away. Find your “happy place.”
Recreation (vacation). Take one, and really unplug…I dare ya.
Renewal (starting afresh). Cultivate new thoughts and pure ideas.
If we don’t practice proper recharging, then we may find ourselves burning out. I’ve done that in the past, and that’s as bad as a root canal. No doubt we can resort to our default setting and pay the price if we don’t do something different. That usually does not end well. So stop…plug into what charges you, rinse, and repeat. Then, maybe, you can actually recharge at something…you know—to charge at something again.
“One of the best ways to recharge is by simply being in the presence of art. No thoughts, no critiques. Just full-on absorption mode.”
—Dean Francis Alfar
Recharge is written by Alex Anderson