Do you remember counting down the number of days to the end of the school year? I will never forget the magical “last days of school” before summer. There were picnics, parties, and games, culminating in a tremendous last-day sendoff.
The most indescribable feeling of joy: Swimming pools, whiffle ball games, hot dogs, and baseball games. The next day more of the same. It never got old.
But as an adult, the start of the summer looks and feels different. While there still may be a vacation to look forward to — or maybe some activities with the kids or a few rounds of golf — things are still different. Work does not stop, nor does it get easier. And just like at the end of the school year, fatigue is high. In fact, if I am not careful, I find myself only getting more tired during the summer.
The Wisdom of My Grandparents
We logically know that “endless play” is not an option. So how do we recreate the joy of summer right where we are, regardless of our circumstances?
While there are many potential answers to this question, one thing I have been thinking about lately is my family lineage. Specifically, what activities did my grandparents partake in to keep their energy high? What were their daily rhythms? And were they helpful in light of rediscovering energy?
My mom’s mom (we called her “JJ”) was legendary for embracing community. A card shark, golfer, and someone who wanted to be wherever the party was, JJ leaned on her Evansville, Indiana, community. Visiting her on summer vacations are memories I will cherish forever because they were always active and fun. In fact, sometimes Papa and I would go to lunch and a movie just so the two of us could get some rest! JJ showed me that while community might be the last thing we want when we’re tired, it may also be the most important thing we find.
My Grandpa Rue — “Papa” — was a World War II veteran who loved being outside. He planted, gardened, and worked the land. Meanwhile, my Grandpa Hoffer would work all day and then come home and spend time outdoors — he had a green thumb that still is talked about today. The point is that being outside reenergized both of my grandfathers. There is wisdom here!
Grandpa Hoffer also liked to jog. I recently ran across an article published around his seventieth birthday, and it recounted the thousands of miles he had jogged with friends in the community. This is the trifecta of restoration: exercise, community, and nature — being outside in this case. There is wisdom here as well.
Meanwhile, Grandpa Hoffer never stopped working because he had so much fun with it. He must have understood that work is what you make of it. And he made it something meaningful to himself and countless others. I still think about that when I walk our floor, as he modeled, and make connections with our team members on the floor. It is a community at work!
Restoration Doesn’t Happen by Accident
My family’s history may or may not be helpful to you. I am sharing it, however, to demonstrate that restoration does not happen by accident. You must be intentional about it. Establishing rhythms around community, hobbies, exercise, and the like will positively restore your energy. And with your energy restored, your leadership tank will be full to give to those you lead.
Remember, you cannot give what you do not possess. You cannot provide affirmation, creativity, or anything else when your tank is empty, and you are in survival mode. To effectively lead, you must prioritize restoration. You have to refill your tank.
What restores you? Find it, and make it a priority. How will you be able to tell when you’ve found something that fills your tank? You’ll know you are on to something when, like the long summer days of yesteryear, your heart skips a beat, and you wish the moment you are experiencing would never have to end.