We have a love-hate relationship with rest. We need it and yet struggle to know how to do it.
I find definitions helpful. Here’s how rest is defined.
Rest is when we cease work or movement to relax or recover.
We know this definition. But I find the dictionary’s 3rd definition to be the most critical for leaders to understand.
Rest., to be based on or grounded in, depend on: “the country’s security rested on its alliances.”
Rest is vital for its pause, but my question to you is. What’s your foundation? What is your security in? Stop and actually ask this question: What am I resting on?
What are you resting on?
Did you have an answer? Do you like the answer you found? Are you more afraid than you were 10 minutes ago?
You need a foundation to “rest” your life on. Something stable, reliable, and resilient.
A house rests on a foundation. The foundation is unassuming, you can hardly see it. It’s mostly below the surface, but it’s deep and sturdy, and nothing exists outside of it.
Unfortunately, our lives feel unstable because our foundation is unstable. And that’s because your foundation has to be internalized. We have the self-destructive habit of building ourselves on the external.
We seek the praise of others. We fear the shame and disapproval of peers. Our ideas are invalid until endorsed by opinions of value. Instead of dependable castles on a rock, we’re as variable as houseboats tossed at sea. If the sea is calm, our life is serene. If the water is rough, our lives are in chaos. We live lives of little rest because we have nothing to rest on.
What are you resting on? It’s time to clear the space and re-lay your foundation.
We’ve got to start with values. This is the bedrock, the unchanging, the part of you that exists no matter the storm.
What do you prioritize in your life, above all else?
What do you believe in so much that, like a planet with gravity, you can’t help but be pulled to it?
Too often, this feels like some ethereal ambiguous list. If you don’t know what matters you to you, you won’t know when you’re drifting, and one day you’ll be exhausted and lost.
You have to make a list, cut it, cut it, and then cut it again. (You can google “values lists” for words to play with)
Having something to rest on means knowing your values and finding ways to have our choices align with the priorities we value.
I find my values follow my emotions. Things that bring me joy and things that fire up anger are a good start for discovering my values.
Spend your time and resources to acquire knowledge, skills, and experience, but only if they shape your talent into strengths. People seek outside tools to replace a perceived lack of talent or to remove a defect. A foundation of values needs the counterpoint of understanding talent. The unique patterns of thought feeling and behavior that set you apart. That can dependably be activated to create near-perfect performance time after time. When we ignore what’s a natural talent, to reform or please others, it’s never as powerful as when it flows from our core. It’s work and exhausting.
But do you know what your talents are?
Can you describe them and define what you need to shape them into valuable strengths?
Can you trust your genius even if no one else’s sees it?
Flowers bloom in the forest for no one’s pleasure but their own. They don’t do this to create beauty; they bloom because it’s what they do.
Name your talents and exercise your genius because it’s yours and its nearly effortless.
Passion is the last of this triumvirate. Passions are about emotions. But it’s not the same as asking what makes you emotional, you need to identify the people, places, or problems that cause an emotional reaction so profound it’s worth suffering for.
What gets you emotional to the point it can’t be controlled?
What moves you to act and suffer pain and discomfort?
What moves you?
It can be an instance of joy, or it can be a complaint. The hate of injustice can be as compelling as love.
When I’m resting well, it’s on the truth of these three stones:
My best self is a warrior, and I value other warriors.
My talent is in creating understanding and advocacy for others in words and actions.
My passion is love for the marginalized and disenfranchised.
When I frame my world in these truths, the picture gets more clear, my stride feels easier and I remember who I am.
Are you tired? Have you self-cared your Saturdays to death, and you still feel worn out? Does nothing seem to relax and bring your rest? Maybe you’re resting on the wrong things.
What do you value?
What talent sits in your core?
What moves you to the point of sacrifice?
Use these three legs of truth to give yourself a stool.
You deserve a place to rest.