Brighton Leadership Group

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Lessons from the Polar Vortex

This week in Chicago we may break all the records for cold. Tomorrow it’s predicted to be a high of  -11 F/-24 C (yes, that’s the warmest part of the day!), a low of -22 F/-30 C and possible wind chill of -50 F/-45 C!
What’s interesting about extreme weather is that it causes disruptions in work routines. All of our on-site client work that was scheduled for this week was cancelled due to concerns for employee travel and taking precautions to ensure that everyone stays safe.
While we aren’t thrilled with the frigid cold, it is interesting to reflect on the seasons. They impose a rhythm of life that we need, but don’t always allow. Nature has rhythms and so do our bodies. We are programmed for oscillatory living, not linear living.
Consider this quote from the Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz:
Nature itself has a pulse, a rhythmic, wavelike movement between activity and rest. Think about the ebb and flow of the tides, the movement between seasons, and the daily rising and setting of the sun. Likewise, all organisms follow life-sustaining rhythms—birds migrating, bears hibernating, squirrels gathering nuts, and fish spawning, all of them at predictable intervals. So, too, human beings are guided by rhythms.”
Just as we can’t tolerate excessive cold, we can’t go full speed ahead without burning out. Too much energy spent, with insufficient rest and recovery, leads to trouble. Too much rest, with not enough energy spent, also leads to trouble. Full engagement depends on balancing, or oscillating between, rest and recovery, recovery and rest.
The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal.
In recognition of the cold we are experiencing, consider how to live a rhythmic life with periods of intense activity followed by periods of intense rest. We need to live life as a series of sprints versus a never-ending marathon.

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