Value in Nothing

Value in Nothing

If you live in a Western country, you’d very much be familiar with the idea of ‘growth’ mindset – the idea that we should always be looking for ways to grow. We should always be seeking new things to learn, new challenges to face in order to become better versions of ourselves. The idea of ‘growth’ is usually tied to the idea of ‘do.’ Do more, to be more.

Before we dissect the value of ‘doing’ something, let us first perform some mental gymnastics. When I refer to ‘doing’ something, I simply mean taking action beyond what is their current position. One could argue that a conscious decision to ‘do nothing’ is ‘doing’ something, however that would simply be semantics. For the purpose of this article, I am referring to an action that deviates from the status quo.

‘Doing’ something is nearly always celebrated. It is seen as action. It is seen as a driving force. The act of ‘doing’ something indicates that you are taking charge of the situation, and likely your life. This is apparent in the health and fitness industry. How many times have you heard statements like the following?

‘If you want it, you have to go for it.’

‘You have to train more.’

‘You have to take care of your diet.’

‘You have to DO more.’

Let’s be clear. There are ABSOLUTELY people who need to be told to DO more. They DO need to exercise more. They DO need to take care of their diet more. They DO need to look after themselves more.

But I pose a different question. Have we, in our effort to encourage ‘doing more’, actually created the perception that ‘doing less’, is somehow less valuable?

Is telling someone to exercise one session more per week, versus telling someone to reduce by one, a mismatch in value? If we extend what this potentially means, it means that coaches and therapists can only demonstrate value if we ADD to our client’s lives. It means that our clients will only perceive our utility if we are able to find ways for them to do more.

But this is not what health is. Like the ying and yang, ‘optimal’ is where ying and yang meet. It is where ‘doing’ and ‘not doing’ meet. It is where balance is established. If we, as coaches and therapists, are unable to convey the value of asking someone to ‘do nothing’, then we will never be able to truly consolidate the holistic nature of our role.

We are not just people who say ‘DO MORE,’ irrespective of what the person in front of us actually needs.

Sometimes we NEED to be the person that says ‘it’s time to do less,’ against the person’s wishes in front of us.

There is value in saying:

‘I think it’s better if we take it light today.’

‘I think we shouldn’t train tomorrow – you haven’t slept much all week.’

‘I think you shouldn’t be that strict on your diet today.’

‘I think it’s better not to progress this week.’

We are facing an increasingly common problem. Our peers are overworked, under-slept and under-fed (by nutritious foods). This is not JUST a problem of asking others to ‘do more.’ This is a problem of asking people to bring balance back to their life.