Practical Developmental Ideas #9 January/February 2004

This issue is about Rest and Renewal. Anyone or any organisation can get stale or get stuck in a routine or a rut, I know I do. We can be busy and exhausted when some refreshed thinking would make all the difference. I hope to offer a few ideas about how we can do this.

The gap in producing an ezine since December is because we were away doing some hefty rest and renewal visiting my daughter in Australia in December and most of January! We went to the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmania. It was splendid!

A further request for your stories

This is the ninth issue of these ezines. I have had some feedback saying they are helpful, and their circulation is expanding, so thank you. I would still be very interested indeed to hear of your stories of using any of the stuff in the ezines.  I would also be interested in your experience or ideas of working with the themes in your way.  If you wish and you give me permission, I could add a story to each edition, with your name and contact details if you want. I am sure this would enhance the ezine and develop the ideas too.

So, if you have had an interesting experience with these themes, will you email me a two or three paragraph story?

Some problems and benefits of rest and renewal 

Rest is a rational need. We have to be well rested to perform at our best. Unfortunately, the pressure of modern working life is so great and the “macho” culture of so many organisations so entrenched that this crucial issue is denied. After many years of chronic fatigue, even people who are victims of this may not recognise it. How many of us wake up to an alarm clock? If we had the rest our bodies and minds need, we would wake up naturally when we were well rested. When we struggle to cope with impossible demands at work, we have no energy left for our partners or children. Several years ago I asked a senior person at the Marriage Guidance Council what proportion of marriage breakdown was caused by organisational stress. He said 90%!

So, if we can have enough rest we will be able to think and perform better and have better relationships too.

Renewal is costly as well as exciting. It can involve giving up the familiar ways of doing things or being. They may not be the best or the most satisfying but they are familiar and comfortable. It is really hard to admit to being a bit stale or stuck. I so admire my clients who ask me to question and challenge and provoke them! Renewal does lead to life and work being more rewarding in every dimension.

Some solutions- about rest

Take some rest

Organisations have very short memories, you can give your all and a few months after you leave you will be forgotten. So, it makes sense to look after yourself while you can. You can try admitting your limits. Go home on time. Walk into the park at lunchtime and sit down for ten minutes and do absolutely nothing. It may be acceptable to work hard and long when there is a short-term crisis. If you have to do this everyday, there is something wrong with the way the work is organised or the resources available.

Take some time for you 

Organisations are demanding places. They can be fascinating, supportive and growthful and still take more of you than it is rational for you to give. Everybody in the organisation, including you, deserves some time for himself or herself. I offer this to people and they come to my house and talk to me. I can feel their sigh of relief when they “put their feet up” and “be” for a bit without the mobile phone, the interruptions or the demands. Then people can talk about what they want, how they want.

Deal directly with the fatigue

Sometimes people are so exhausted that I offer to “stand guard”. I learned “Standing Guard” from re-evaluation counselling ( It is nice way to help people with fatigue. You ask the person if he or she would like to get comfortable, often to lie down on a sofa with a blanket tucked in nicely. Then say, “please give me all your worries and concerns and I will look after them for the next (say) ten minutes while you just rest.” “You don’t have to do anything. I will keep you safe.” Then pay attention to the person as she or he rests. People always seem calmer and more centred afterwards and often say how much they enjoyed it!

“Revisit” a peaceful place 

We all have memories of places where we felt at peace, safe and secure. As I write this, I can remember sitting on my mother’s knee when I was very small as she sang a lullaby. If you take a few minutes to sit calmly and revisit your peaceful experience in your mind, you will experience a blessing and your rest will be profound.

Some solutions – about renewal 


All of the above can lead to renewal, often quite effortlessly and without a struggle. Your calmness and tranquillity will allow new energy to flow.

Seek (or enjoy) new viewpoints 

When we first travelled to Nepal it was an unexpected life changing experience. We came across very materially poor people in the villages under Annapurna who were very friendly, outgoing, and so happy together. This was the closest I had ever been to experiencing “The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth”. When we came back we saw how materially rich we are and how impoverished our lives are.

I have nearly died a few times; the last one was an encounter with a truck on a dark hillside in Peru. I recommend a close encounter with the “grim reaper”. It sounds paradoxical, but life becomes sharper and more enjoyable afterwards. It does give a new viewpoint!

You can find new viewpoints without risking life and limb. A conversation with a friend can give you them. As can really hearing a “chance” remark. My granddaughter, Rebecca (three and a half) said to me at the weekend “Be happy”, when I was feeling glum about getting new work after our long trip. I now realise I have a lot to be happy about.

Do something practical 

This one is from Kay. You can throw away all the junk in your office, reorganise your desk and filing system and come in one morning ready to make a new start. Moving offices or reorganising can have the same effect if you take the time to think about how to get the best from the change. This does not always happen because everything has to be done in a hurry. Does anyone know why we have to be in such a rush?

Create a new vision with your group 

I keep coming back to this. Nothing is more empowering than an attractive shared vision created by the group of people you work with every day. You can draw pictures, share stories, tell fairy stories, share your best experiences so far and build on them but build an attractive, stretching dream together and then decide what you are going to do to get there. Deciding to do something together, even if it is uncomfortable, is key. We often now what we need to do – but it won’t happen until we do it!

More information

There is more information related to rest and renewal on The articles Building Peace, Creative Organisation, Overworking and Vision Building may be helpful. I will also recommend again Time to Think by Nancy Kline in this context.

Please send me your thoughts about rest and renewal

The ideas above are based on my limited thinking and experience. I know the issues are important. You will have found different and interesting ways to rest and renew yourself and to help others do so too. Please email me your thoughts and experiences about how to do this, and then I will send something back to the list that will give a richer picture to us all. 

Feedback please

So, I hope you have found the information in this issue interesting and useful. The subjects I might cover in the next issues are: –

Conflict resolution

Designing learning events

Developing your people

Improving working relationships

Removing emotional blocks

Stimulating creative thinking

Thinking tools and processes

Are these important to you?

I am sure there are many ways to make this more useful to you. Please let me know what you think of it, if you have time. If you have any particular developmental interests you would like me to cover, please let me know. I will try and respond if I can and if I don’t know anything about the subject, I will tell you.


I enjoy helping clients think through real issues involving people. I sometimes stay in the background as coach or consultant and sometimes work directly designing and delivering developmental events.  I am getting more and more interested in working in an appreciative way. This seems to release energy and get results easily and I enjoy it a lot. If you need to know more please refer to, email or give me a call on +44 (0) 1707886553.

Many of the readers of this newsletter are consultants themselves. I learned a great deal from other consultants over the years so I am glad to have this opportunity to do the same.


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If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick