Dr. Heidi Hanna is CEO and founder of SYNERGY, an integrative neuroscience partnership that provides brain-based training for individuals and organizations. Heidi’s publications include the NY Times best seller The SHARP Solution: A Brain-Based Approach for Optimal Performance (Wiley, Feb 2013), and the follow-up release Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship With Stress (Wiley, Jan 2014).
In addition to those accomplishments, Heidi also attended college on a full scholarship to play softball. As a pitcher, she quickly realized that athletes share a common awareness of the window they possess to perform an optimal level. She also discovered that most high-performing athletics perfected ways to recharge their energy in order to continue performing that those levels. Finally, as with any pitcher, she become intimately familiar with the pitch counts imposed upon her.
Throughout these experiences, it became clear that energy is our most important resource. In softball (and baseball), a pitch count is a regimented tool design to allow pitchers to recharge their energy appropriately. Similarly, in tennis, players only spend an average of 35% actually playing the game; the remainder is spent restoring their energy levels. As you can imagine, this tactic translates seamlessly into the non-sports world and especially to entrepreneurs.
Stress can initially provide stimulation for achievement, but prolonged periods or intense levels of stress will ultimately diminish our ability to be resilient. For entrepreneurs, installing a schedule that allows for energy restoration can be difficult and feel uncomfortable.
Physiologically, however, we are designed for it. Before the technological advance of the previous century, most humans scheduled themselves around natural daylight. With the advent of artificial light, it became easier to work beyond the limitations of nature. The advances of the last decade have exacerbated those habits further, as it is now possible to be constantly connected and consistently running at full capacity.
This eventually leads to "tolerating" life, as opposed to finding a true rhythm. As such, we must determine our own pitch count in order to recognize when we need time to recharge. Think of the process as coupling periods of strategic engagement with periods of strategic disengagement. Down time doesn't mean surfing the web, watching TV, or checking email; rather, it means allowing your mind to fully recharge. A simple start is to schedule time blocks for 50 minutes instead of one hour to automatically build in a 10-minute window for energy restoration.
Make a proactive effort to be at your peak when it matters most, rather than trying to maintain that peak at all times. Identify what's most important in order to capitalize on those moments. This can be accomplished through an "energy audit". Monitor your sleep habits (amount of time, sleep preparation and technology cut-off, positive morning rituals). Embrace nutrition - your body's fuel. Maintain a balance of movement and rest to keep from overcommitting to one or the other.
Entrepreneurs can easily fall into the trap of thinking "it's all about how much I can get done, and how quickly". The more intense the situation you prepare for, however, the more recovery time that will be required. If you enter each day with intention and remind yourself that in order to speed up, you must slow down, you will avoid that dreaded entrepreneurial pitfall: burn out.
Long-term commitment to recharging energy creates the longevity necessary to leave a legacy. Perfecting this process will even allow you to then coach your team in managing their own pitch count. Health, happiness, relationships, business all will improve.
Create a recharge revolution!