Mind the Down Time

By Ryan Fleming, Director – Habitational Group

There are people in every industry, sport, or walk of life that are unbelievable performers.

We see them accomplish incredible amounts of work and perform what looks to be impossible feats of balance, speed, success, and the like. Most of the time, we attribute their abilities to DNA that we are just not born with. We assume that they are sacrificing parts of their lives that we are simply unwilling to sacrifice. That must be it. They can’t be normal human beings just like us, faced with everyday distractions, responsibilities, and stresses. I think most of us convince ourselves that their level of performance is unattainable or that the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze. I’d like to challenge that thought pattern.

I drive quite a bit, and during those drives, I typically try to listen to as many books or podcasts as I can. One of the most insightful podcasts I consistently listen to is The Tim Ferris Show in which Tim deconstructs world-class performers to ultimately find out what makes them who they are or what gives them the success they’ve earned. He’s interviewed everyone from Olympic gold medalists to the world’s most innovative business minds to motivational greats such as Tony Robbins. Through all of these interviews, you can see that most, if not all, of the interviewees have eerily similar belief systems. Tim does an incredible job of really getting to the core of how each guest can, so consistently, produce results.

Exercise routines and diet are always a given for any world-class performer, but for the sake of this column entitled “medicine for the mind,” we will focus on thought patterns and practices instead. One of the most important things I noticed is that each of these guests makes sure to mind his or her down time. What I mean by this is that it’s far more important to consistently move in your intended direction every minute of every day than it is to produce an incredible result for short periods of time. Life is a marathon not a sprint. The story of the tortoise and the hare is a perfect example. That incredibly talented hare didn’t mind his down time and lost the race to a tortoise, which simply made sure to put one foot in front of the other on a more consistent basis.

Each of us has a point at which we internally feel that we’ve earned some sort of break or reward of relaxation. While this break may be warranted, it’s often abused and comes more often than it should, drastically limiting our ability to succeed. The question we need to ask ourselves is, at what point should we be satisfied with our progress? Simply setting a higher bar or throwing more passion at what we want to achieve will help limit our down time and increase our focus on success. Personally, blocking out time each day for a specific purpose shows me visually where my time is spent. Although I use lists in the form of a bubble diagram (trademarked Juggle Bubbles by my incredibly organized wife), feel free to explore other options, whether it is a graphical pie chart, a timeline, or a simple hourly calendar.

World-class performers have the same twenty-four hours each day that we do. They just spend more of it fighting for what they want to achieve. Goal setting, exercise, diet, time management. All are important, but if we can start with simply “minding our down time,” we may see results we never thought possible.

 

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