Slow down. Better yet, stop.
Sunday morning I woke up and felt like I had a hangover. Only thing was, I didn’t have a drop of alcohol the night before. I haven’t had any for almost four months.
I felt that way because my body is tired to the bone.
I came into this year with a focus unlike I’ve had in recent years. This was going to be the year when I was going to get in the best shape, dig into my overall wellbeing, crush my business objectives, get back to creating content regularly and be there for my family and friends.
Also unlike recent years, that focus lasted beyond the first couple of weeks. I’ve had a great year so far and I’m feeling really good about myself.
About 30 days ago I was all proud of myself and telling my therapist how I’m on a high of achievement and that’s keeping me going (see a couple of Grinds ago), and she flat out told me “that’s not sustainable.”
A week later in boxing class, I seriously strained my back. The strain was bad enough that I had to go to the doctor, get meds, and got orders to stop working out for at least two weeks.
Ok, slow down.
Over the last four weeks, having not exercised, that high has come down considerably. I still feel good about myself, but my energy level just isn’t as high.
Last week I spent all day Monday with my Marine son, home on leave. Tuesday was back to back meetings all over town. Wednesday was an up and back trip to Louisville on business. Thursday morning I flew to Austin for SXSW and after two full days of non stop action, I flew back Saturday morning and went to the home opener for Nashville SC as well as a friend’s birthday party.
On Sunday this newsletter was the last thing I wanted to do.
But what I love about writing it is that it causes me to reflect. What did I learn? What do I want to share?
And this week, I want to talk about getting better with time.
Even though I heal a lot slower from a muscle strain now than I did twenty years ago, my experience has taught me that rushing back to being active is likely only going to make the injury worse. Now I can be patient and heal completely. The gift from stopping completely is I get a chance to fully integrate all the work I’ve been doing on my body for the last year and a half. The result is I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually want to switch up my workout priorities.
I couldn’t have done this if I rushed back to what I was comfortable with out of fear of missing out.
Stopping completely allowed me to know that I want to prioritize mobility above everything. After all, the truth is my lack of mobility is really at the heart of why I got hurt in the first place.
Sunday, I realized I need to pace myself a bit better in work too. Normally, I’m completely focused on what I need to get done in the next 24 hours, the next week, the next month and the next quarter. But this Sunday my fatigue just wouldn’t let me. Which frustrated me.
Thankfully, because I’ve been paying attention to my body and emotions better lately, I didn’t fight it. Instead, I thought my body is trying to tell me something, and I need to listen to it.
How did I listen?
I sat down and made a list of what I’ve accomplished in the first quarter of the year so far:
- Launched the evolution of the Health:Further business, closed two clients and beat projections
- Released the 53,000 word draft of Create and Orchestrate
- Launched the podcast and delivered 10 episodes
- Relaunched The Grind
- Brought on a content producer to scale content production
- Lost 15 pounds
- Stayed sober
- Went to therapy consistently
- Was present for my family
- Drove to and from Parris Island, South Carolina for my son’s graduation from the Marines
- Co-chaired the Conversations at Oz fundraiser
- Had dinner with friends or went to a friend’s party at least once every week
- Signed on with a new speakers bureau (after being recruited)
- Closed my first major keynote and got pitched for another one
- Was interviewed on three podcasts
- Began sessions as a member of the Nashville Health Care Fellows class of 2019
- Assisted in the launch of Nashville SC as a Major League Soccer brand
- Hosted the launch of a new soccer mini-pitch at the C.E. McGruder Family Center in North Nashville on behalf of Nashville SC
- Assisted my Grand Master at martial arts belt testing
- Signed an advisory contract with a startup that I am molding for high growth
- Board meetings and mentor meetings
- A bunch of other stuff I can’t talk about because it’s confidential
This happened in 70 days. I’m supposed to be tired.
When I say getting better with time, I don’t just mean getting better with age, I mean mastering time.
At dinner at SXSW this Friday, my dear friend and spiritual big brother, Marquise Stillwell, said something that brought this home for me. We were talking about time and he said that his understanding of time was the greatest thing that had come with age.
He brought up Kobe Bryant and even Tom Brady (who we both don’t love) as athletes who can make 15 seconds feel like 5 minutes with what they can get done in them. And it’s not because they can run as fast as they used to. It’s because they see everything and everything slows down for them.
While I think aging does this naturally, actively stopping, reflecting and integrating enhances this greatly.
Even stopping my obsessive gaze into the future and taking time to reflect on what I had already done opened up new pathways of thinking on how I might proceed that I hadn’t considered previously. It didn’t magically make me feel better and ready to go crush the next 90 days. It did, however, make the fatigue I was (and still am) experiencing feel well deserved and completely appropriate.
My last twenty years were the Create and Orchestrate years. While I still plan on doing plenty of that, I’m starting to really look forward to the Reflect and Integrate years ahead.