A Lesson in Recharging

Last Wednesday morning I went out to start my car and realized that I had left the rear hatch open all night. Sure enough, the car wouldn’t start because the battery was dead. Thanks to my husband, I got where I needed to go, and after being dropped off back home that evening, I called AAA roadside service for a battery jump. They arrived promptly and I thought, “Great, problem solved.”

As the tech was charging my battery, he also ran a diagnostic. “Yep” he reported, “she’s dead alright.” Nodding, I asked, “So, I just need to leave the car running for ½ hour or so in the driveway, right?” Shaking his head he responded, “Nope, she’s dead.” “Dead-dead?” I pressed. “Dead-dead,” he confirmed. “You can leave it out here running all night, but it won’t hold the charge once you turn it off. You need a new battery.”

“But we just installed a new battery not that long ago” I whined, as if my complaining would change anything.

Slowly nodding his head, he patiently explained, “The thing is, you drained it so much that you stripped the battery of its ability to hold a charge. If you want to optimize the life of a battery, you really need to regularly take the car out and drive it, 1 – 2 times a week, so it can recharge itself.”

At that moment, I was dumbstruck. “Wow!” I thought. “This is way more than a lesson in car mechanics, this is a life lesson for me as an organization development and design professional.”

I immediately asked myself, in what ways are we stripping our ability (our ‘batteries’) as people and organizations to hold a charge? How often do we treat ourselves and others as something that we can continuously take energy from without a thought as to what recharging we need to be doing on a regular basis?

How often do we jump to the next task on a long list of to-dos, without taking time to honor and celebrate our wins so we can recharge along the way?

How often do we focus on what isn’t (what we haven’t done, what still needs work, what isn’t right, what’s missing) without acknowledging what is (what we have accomplished, what is working, what we are learning, what we are proud of)?

How often do we just deplete, deplete, deplete… without a thought to what we need to add back?

Life is designed to continuously add energy and material back into the system so the system can maintain, repair, renew, and regenerate itself. This is true of us as individual humans as it is of the organizations we create. We are living systems.

So, as you rush off into your day or your next meeting, I invite you to remember to take your ‘battery out for a drive’. . . to pause and reflect so you can recharge yourselves along the way.