When we normally talk about downtime, we talk about it in terms of resting, rejuvenation, stepping away from our businesses, and nurturing ourselves.
What I’m interested in today is something a little different. I like to call it active downtime
. (paradoxical, I know.)
I think there are many business lessons to be learned through the lens of downtime. Why? Because our downtime is spent doing what we are naturally drawn to do. We don’t do it because we have to, we do it because we want to. We aren’t up against any deadlines or having to please anyone but ourselves, and the results are usually of minimal importance. We simply enjoy the process.
I’ll give you an example.
I started running just after I started my business. If I’m being honest, it was simply to get my ass off the couch and avoid this freshman 15 that had subtly crept up on me now that I was working from home in front of my computer all day. That was it. As I built up to my first 5k last year, I started noticing a few things. First, my ass got smaller. (yay!) Second, I started having great ideas while I was running. Third, my ability to focus while I worked drastically improved. I usually have a ton of energy, and had always had very active, on-the-go types of jobs–the sitting-at-my-desk-all-day thing was very challenging.
Running (really) became a tool that helps me be awesome at what I do.
This year, I started getting more into distance running, and plan to do a half marathon in 2013. Distance running is whole. different. beast. (Am I right, runner friends?) You have to pace yourself, manage your energy well, focus your attention correctly, and listen to what your body’s telling you. We won’t even mention the emotional/mental battle that rages on until you cross the finish line. Here’s the funny thing I’ve learned about distance running:
The first two miles are always the hardest. Your body rebels a bit & your brain screams “I do not want to run!!!” Something always hurts. You can’t find a comfortable pace and your breath won’t stabilize and settle. Then, like clockwork, the two mile mark comes and something just clicks. Your body settles in, your brain gets quiet, and your breath moves steadily in & out. One foot goes in front of the other, legs stretching gracefully out over the pavement. You’re content. Peaceful. You know when you can lean into your edge a little bit and gain some time, and know when to dial the pace back and conserve some energy. Simply, you just keep going.
If this isn’t the biggest metaphor for the first two years of business, I don’t know what is.
My little hobby taught me the greatest lesson of my entrepreneurial journey.
You have to settle in to your own rhythm–and just keep going.
Do you have a similar experience with your downtime? Is it an active tool, just fun, or a passive way to spend some time? Do you see any lessons that you’ve learned within your downtime that have made you consciously improve as an entrepreneur? Do tell.