Step Away to Step Forward

One of the most echoing calls I’ve heard emerge from my interviews with all the fantastic HBICs in Action has been the call of silence, stillness, and stepping back. Even though I’ve been trained as a coach and studied the research around the value of taking a breath and pausing, there was still a part of me that didn’t really believe in it all.

I kept questioning how it was possible to get more done by NOT doing it. That felt too counter-intuitive.

But then the interview answers started rolling in. I saw the theme start to take shape every time I’d ask a profilee, “How do you show up as your best self?” (or some variation of that question). Invariably, the women would eventually come around to some iteration of, “I step away, take time for me, and ignore everything for a while.”

The most obvious answers were about meditation and sleep. Leslie Phillips stated, simply yet eloquently, “I meditate every day. I just sit quietly for 15 minutes or so.” Heather Apple pointed out “When I’m super stressed, I meditate before bed. It helps me sleep.” Another HBIC in Action who we’ll be profiling soon said to me, “First and foremost, I always get eight hours of sleep. I sacrifice everything for that.”

Less immediately obvious, but also on theme, were the comments related to spending time being physically active - AWAY from the mission these HBICs are working on. Jude Gerace said, “I prioritize leaving town once a month completely for restorative reasons. The trips are not for my business, they’re just for me and my partner to ride our bikes and explore.” Natalie Hogan said, “I run. It’s the best way to get comfortable with being uncomfortable with yourself.”

So I got to studying. Was NOT doing something really going to help do more of it?

I started in the meditation universe… and O. M. G. meditation is for realz. I’ve always kinda known it was valuable, (I have several friends who meditate regularly, and they never stop expounding on the virtues of the practice… I’ll even credit meditation with saving the life of one friend). I found this fantastic resource that compiles all the findings from hundreds of scientific studies, and organizes it into categories of benefits. Yes… ok… it’s a site dedicated to the promotion of meditation, so I’m sure they picked just the studies that support their objective, but still… there are a LOT! My favorite findings were related to how meditation improves your mind performance. You can focus better, manage stress more effectively, process information faster, remember things more readily… the list goes on.

As for the HBICs in Action that choose exercise over sitting still, it turns out that aerobic activities - especially running - increase the neuron reserves in the hippocampus area of the brain, responsible for learning.

What is critical about each of the activities mentioned by our HBICs is that they're restorative. Many talked about how it was important for them to be alone - they didn't get the same level of recharge if they went home to a busy family or went out dancing with friends.

At wolf & heron we talk a lot about crafting the life we want, and creating balance in our lives. Our conversations with HBICs in Action are showing us that this balance we all seek isn’t a luxurious end-goal that we’ll get to once our mission is complete - it’s actually part of what makes us capable of achieving it.

What do you do to step away so you can achieve more in your mission?