Equilibrium Through Exhaustion

"Randall Stutman, who for decades has been the behind-the-scenes advisor for many of the biggest CEOs and leaders on Wall Street, once studied how several hundred senior executives of major corporations recharged in their downtime. The answers were things like sailing, long-distance cycling, listening quietly to classical music, scuba diving, riding motorcycles, and fly-fishing. All these activities, he noticed, had one thing in common: an absence of voices. These were people with busy, collaborative professions. People who made countless high-stakes decisions in the course of a day. But a couple hours without chatter, without other people in their ear, where they could simply think (or not think), they could recharge and find peace. They could be still—even if they were moving. They could finally hear, even if over the sounds of a roaring river or the music of Vivaldi." (Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday)

A few years ago, Dana and I took a trip to the Catskills with our friends to go snowboarding. It only was my second time on a board, so I couldn't wait to get out on the slopes. I grew up skateboarding, and to my delight, my experience translated. We had a blast.

I'll never forget the feeling of rejuvenation when I returned to work. At first, I couldn't figure it out. The trip was only three or four days, not a month. It was also physically taxing, and yet, I wasn't exhausted. I felt energized. I wondered what it would take to tap into this regularly since I wouldn't be snowboarding all year long.

All day I thought about the long weekend away, and it became clear. Snowboarding is not an activity for zoning out or getting distracted, especially for newbies like me. It required my full attention. Despite the fast-paced nature of the sport, everything around me became silent. In that way, it was more like meditation.

This trip forever changed my perspective on finding balance. Not long after, I took up powerlifting. Four or five times per week, I was able to find the same equilibrium. No matter what happened during the day, it helped me refocus, recharge, and start the next day at 100%. I'm not back in the gym yet, but I still follow a tight workout schedule to keep this practice alive.

It might sound counterproductive, but for me, throwing myself into something challenging, physically and mentally, is the best way to get lifted.