A couple of years ago we turfed a chunk of our garden….what a rock ‘n’ roll life I lead, eh? But if you’ve ever done it yourself, you’ll know how long it takes to dig out the soil, and in our case all the wonderful bulbs in our traditional 1930’s-style borders. So I ‘rescued’ all the bulbs and moved them elsewhere. I was pretty meticulous….or so I thought.

Unsurprisingly, every year we have a sprinkling of sunshine-yellow flowers, defiantly bobbing away on our (patchy) lawn. They’re so cheerful and I sort of admire them. Months of waiting, hidden, and then suddenly there they are – having their moment in the sun.

It reminded me of a raft of thinking that suggests we could learn a thing or two from the humble narcissus.

The clever people at Mindspring utilise an ‘emotions in action’ grid to explore how emotions correlate with energy-levels. There are times when we are:

thriving’ – emotionally resourceful, and using high-levels of energy – essentially, in ‘peak performance’ mode;

in ‘renewal’ – still in a good place in terms of resourcefulness, but burning emotional- and physical-fuel less intensively.

Clearly, high-performance is fantastic, but it’s only made possible by spending time in renewal-mode: the time we spend learning, reflecting, practising, revising, planning and…phew, relaxing! In fact, Mindspring assert that for high-performance athletes, almost all their time is spent in this way, readying themselves for short, sharp, bursts of brilliance. And without renewal we risk slipping into ‘survival‘ (up against it, stressed, and barely ‘getting through’ life) or even ‘burnout‘ (running on empty, both physically and emotionally).

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes ‘renewal’ as the habit that makes all the others possible: ‘it’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you’. This means exercising all four dimensions of our nature (physical, mental, social and spiritual) ‘regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways’.

‘Renewal’ might sound very chilled and zen, but it takes deliberate focus. For example, looking after our health is important but the resultant impact of not doing so isn’t immediate – and we can easily forget just how important it is. We put off the run, or tell ourselves that we’ll go cycling tomorrow.

Likewise, when we aren’t mindful of our mental health, or take time to invest in practices that enhance our spiritual wellbeing, it impacts us greatly. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a bit low when I’ve connected less often with other people because I’ve been too busy, or too frazzled, to make sociable plans.

So, what’s your equivalent to the sunny daffodil? Although we can’t see it, there’s a lot going on under the ground for months before they appear.

  • What does ‘high performance’ mean for you? When do you need to reach those peaks? And…
  • What are your renewal habits that make it all possible and do you dedicate enough time to them?

I suppose I should go for a run now…. Hope you have a wonderful spring!