First Sergeant's Corner: Recharge

  • Published
  • By SMSgt Benjamin Seekell, First Sergeant, AF Life Cycle Management Center
What if we recharged ourselves as much as we did our cell phones? It’s an interesting thought right? 

Most of us forget to do quite a few things during the course of the day or week; it’s pretty normal for the human condition. However, we do not usually forget to charge our phones. Why is that? It might have something to do with how much we rely on them and how integrated they are in our day-to-day lives. While we are usually pretty good at making sure the tools that we use in our profession are tip-top and ready for action, we often fail miserably at maintaining the operator. 

As we consider the merits of effective recharging it is vitally important that we recognize that WE are the battery! At our peak power we are extremely efficient and highly functional. Throughout the day we tend to lose some power but are often able to consistently maintain the same output for hours on end. This is an awesome feature, and it enables us to accomplish our missions in a highly dynamic environment. The issue that we run into is that we put a huge premium on productivity and tend to glaze over that very thing that enables us to repeat our performances. There’s also a cultural climate that often celebrates the workaholic and that in many ways, props that lifestyle up as a model for the successful elite. We could not be more wrong though and must fight this mentality we equal vigor. Look no further than the professional athlete for an example. The amazing feats of world class athletes are impossible without recharging being integral to their success.  It is recognized as being so important, that recharging is literally built into their training regiments and those regiments are non-negotiable. This is how we need to view recharging! Not as something that we will “get to” when we have the time, but something that is vital to our very existence. The human body is not designed to run continuously and literally has built in countermeasures to tell you when it needs to slow down and recover. What we like to do is ignore the symptoms of exhaustion and just like ignoring your engine warning lights: it is not a good idea. 

Fortunately, we always have the ability to replace bad habits with good ones. Here are my three key concepts to make recharging a part of your routine:

Deliberate Planning:  Recharging is something we need to plan and if we do not do this deliberately, then it probably won’t happen. Establishing boundaries is almost as important as the work we do day-to-day. Planning your recharge points is just like an investment and we need to put money in to get a return. No recharge, no recovery.  Carve out time in your daily schedule to recharge and keep that time sacred! 

Free Yourself:  Step out of the prison that you’ve designed for yourself! The door is wide open. We often tell ourselves that resting or not conducting “work” is wasting time or being non-productive. Taking time to rest, renew, and refresh is never wasting time and is absolutely not selfish. RECHARGE YOURSELF!  You and your teammates will all benefit from this. Remember, even the POTUS goes on vacation!

Be Wary of the Consequences: Denying this discipline will only result in damage long term. We’ve all heard of burn-out and it’s not pretty when it happens. Sadly, we are not the only ones affected. Our families and comrades also receive the blowback when we fail to recharge our batteries. This compounds the issue because not only can we not take care of ourselves, but also the people that rely on us the most. Don’t wait until you can’t take it anymore before you take a knee. Take one early and often and you’ll be surprised at how much further you can go as a result.