LeBron James has played 46,234 minutes in NBA basketball games. He’s 34. If he plays just three more seasons, he has a chance of beating Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most minutes ever played.
Most players don’t make it past 40,000 minutes. Their bodies deteriorate. They have to quit at 32, 33, 34. LeBron is still going strong. One reason he can is his 3-word-motto:
“Recovery never stops.”
In an interview with Tim Ferriss, his trainer Mike says about it:
“I think with any elite athlete, the one thing we all, as trainers and therapists, have to keep in mind is that recovery never ends.”
He explains that, no matter if LeBron plays 40 minutes in a game or 28 or just two, they’re always thinking about how to heal his body and keep it fit.
“It’s a never-ending process, really. And I think that’s the approach that we must take in order for us to be successful.”
LeBron sleeps eight or nine hours each night. Sometimes ten. If he can’t get those, he’ll catch up with a two-hour nap. That’s a lot of downtime for a global superstar - but it’s necessary.
An incident from the interview shows how deep his commitment to recovery runs:
“Tim, by the way, that muffling you hear in the background is LeBron actually removing his ice bags. Like we just said, recovery never stops, right? Well, we’re sitting here doing this podcast in Los Angeles, and LeBron is continuing to ice his knees and the rest of his body. Right now, in the middle of this podcast.”
It’s very easy to understand that someone who pushes their body to its limit needs lots of rest, but the truth is we all do.
Creative jobs need incubation time for ideas to evolve and improve - and today, all jobs are creative. The human brain is larger than the sum of its parts. Everything is connected.
A breakthrough with a client might come to you on a walk. You may remember a clever line you saw in an ad watching TV that helps you finish the campaign. Maybe you’ll meet an important new contact at the playground with your kids.
You may not go for the all-time NBA record for most minutes played, but you too need to find pockets of rest. They can be small - as long as they’re everywhere.
Meditate on the subway. Observe other people. Don’t send emails. Don’t listen to an audiobook on 2x speed. Walk to your coworker’s desk. Don’t call them. Look out the window. Let your mind wander.
All of this is rest. All of this counts. Because remember:
Recovery never stops.
PS: I wrote a longer article about rest as a way of life back in April, if you have an extra 9 minutes and feel like it, here it is.
About Slow Down Sunday: Life is fast. If we don’t stop and turn around once in a while, we might miss it. So on Sunday, let’s stop and turn around.
Let’s slow down so we can experience all of life - not just parts of it.
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