Sabbath; The Discipline of Rest

Recently I touched on the concept of external and internal noise, and the rise of self-awareness as our work and life habits are reshaped by the many influences of COVID.

Over the recent months, and continuing these discussions with coaching clients, I have become deeply aware of a consistent theme.

I have noticed an interesting shift in answers to the shallow-sentiment of a ‘how are you?’ – the staple response of ‘good’ seems to have transitioned for some to ‘okay’ and even more so to a plain & simple ‘tired’.

There are a number of different words are used like fatigue, weary or ‘burnt-out’ to describe this experience, but they are all symptomatic of the same undergirding issue:

Our workforce lacks rest.

Meeting this burgeoningly common response, I have begun to pry and ask a question I would recommend everyone ask of themselves:

“Are you tired due to lack of sleep or lack of peace”?

More often than not it is the latter. For many this has been a bit of an ‘aha moment’.

With an increasing suite of unknowns laid out before our workforce, with role-stagnation, dropping staff retention and engagement, and what feels like an infinity-pool-equivalent of state lockdowns, we are faced with ambiguity where we once had defined, clear trajectories paved out before us.

Having been swept off this yellow-brick road, people have been met with a steep decline of the external noise in their lives and an over-exposure to internal awareness.

Put simply, our inability to manage internal noise has led to a lack of peace, which in-turn has led to a languishing, under-current-of-fatigue, that has become the norm.

On a broader scale, even organisations need rest.

Many change programs fail because there isn’t enough time given for pause, rest and stepping back.

As a result, people become ‘change weary.’ When change weariness becomes part of the way of life and culture, staff look to detach. It becomes too much. The organisation may pay for bodies to turn up, but the mind and soul of their employees is disengaged.

The people and organisations I see managing this well, are the ones that have, and continue to, create regular, intentional and thoughtful space for restsabbath as a discipline.

Sabbath, contextualised, is the discipline of creating room in your routines and tradition to be still, step-back, enjoy the company of others (as much as restrictions allow); it is a holistic term that applies not just to resting your body, but your mind and your soul as well.

It is stepping back, transcendence of your day-to-day rhythms, to allow room for other things to grow. This is something I am actively encouraging people to reflect on as we continue to navigate as the rules of the game change weekly.

Disciplined rest is no longer a nice to have; it is a necessity for an effective workforce, and is essential for navigating, being successful and engaging with meaning in a post-COVID-19 world.

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