The No-Limit Lie

“No limits!” shouted Nike. And people believed them. Why wouldn’t it be in their own personal best interests to believe a large corporation bent on selling running shoes?

Rest = a Limit

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, believes in an opposite view: the concept of rest. His LinkedIn post, Being tired isn’t a badge of honor, says quite plainly that ignoring sleep and glorifying 80-hour work weeks isn’t the ‘way great companies are built.’ It’s the way that entrepreneurs burn out – sometimes permanently.

One of the reasons why our post-Protestant Work Ethic culture is allergic to the idea of rest? It’s a limitation. It’s a sign that says “Stop.” If you constantly tell yourself, and others, that it’s wrong to put limits in front of people – you won’t put any limits on yourself. If there are no limits, then that means….you can do anything you want. Unfortunately, that also means that you have to pay for the consequences of doing anything you want. Nobody likes that.

Rest versus Addiction

Just by reviewing a few of the publicly available files of lawyers’ disciplinary matters (see Presiding Disciplinary Judge of Arizona ‘Decisions’ section), it is amazing how many cases are related to an addiction. Either the lawyer has gotten caught in a DUI, or has taken drugs with a client, or has engaged in some other harmful behavior that created their own private tailspin cycle of doom; sometimes, a lawyer just doesn’t want to ask for help with a  medical issue or feeling overwhelmed. Why on earth would someone in over $100,000 of law-school debt decide to start cutting corners? Is it the pressure of the position? Is it the need to over-achieve, to be noticed in your field? Is it because everyone else is doing it?

To go back to Fried’s article, habits are hard to break. If you start a business thinking that you Need to work through the night to finish a project for a client, then you Need to sign up for a webinar to Get Your Name Out There, and then you Need to ignore the bill for your mortgage because there’s a really important conference where you Need to go to meet the right people to build your business….

Does that sound any different from the Need for a cocktail at 5 pm? Then a second one at 6 pm? Then a third, because a cute guy is buying?

Just because the end result may be noble, or money-making, doesn’t mean the preceding behaviors are lovely or noble. It’s very easy to point to people who have failed in their business and say, “Well, obviously they didn’t work hard enough.” It’s a little harder to point to someone who failed, who worked really hard, and say, “They couldn’t leave it alone. They got obsessed. And they would do absolutely anything to make it work.”

Rest versus Balance

The word ‘balance’ is definitely overused. Rest is an underused word, probably because most people in America hear the word and see an image of a person snoozing in a hammock. Lazy. Unproductive. Being a grasshopper and not an ant.

‘Balance’, on the other hand, might suggest that you’re juggling various activities, which is a sideways way of saying, “I’m such a busy important person that I have to work hard at taking time off! To refresh! To engage in hobbies! To do things to feed my spirit!”

For some fun insight on self-discipline and balance, watch this JP Sears video: 

Slightly related and still funny is The Terrorism of Happiness! Summary: Wanting to be exclusively happy all the time is like trying to erase all colors from the rainbow except for blue. (That would also be really weird, since the sky is blue….not sure he mentions that.)

Rest Doesn’t Build Our Ego

Rest – not laziness – really isn’t something you can talk to people about at a networking event. “So, what are you into?” “Resting once I’m done with work.” Yeah, that’s going to create some interesting excuses toward the drinks table.

Rest means an admittance that covetousness – the desire to always have more – isn’t valuable. A human being craves time when it’s not necessary to be ‘on’. A human doing always has to be doing, either for personal or for others-centered fulfillment. The ego, or the pride center of the soul, desires to show itself and others that power and control are the most important parts of life.

In the timely words of the Profitable Firm, rest can be the most productive thing to do. When you’re sick, when you need to be creative, and you just can’t think of one more thing to do…..

Don’t do it!

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