Formula for Success

I can’t find the article I read recently, but I remember the formula for success that it was written about:

stress  +  rest  =  growth

Searching the Internet reveals there are a lot of articles about various formulas for success.

This one caught my attention because it is a formula I have used most of my life in a number of areas.

Studying is probably the first area most of us learned to use this formula. Teachers and books teach us new things. It is often a struggle (stress) to understand new material, but as we alternate between going over the material time and again, with times of rest in between, our knowledge grows. Often during rest we have insights that help us learn (grow).

If you want to learn (grow) more, you challenge yourself (stress) to delve into subjects more deeply, and achieve some expertise in the subject area (growth). There have to be times when you take a break for the studying (rest). Most of us can’t study constantly, and during these breaks we often review what we are learning. Often new connections to things we already know are revealed during these times of rest.

A large part of my career in medical research involved software development. Computer programmers have no choice but to learn new computer languages, systems and techniques because of continual improvement in computer operating systems, languages and frameworks both offer advantages over the old ones, and also makes what you used to use obsolete many times. The concept of life long learning really applies to computer programmers. They have to continuously grow. But periods of rest are needed to allow the material to sink in. I remember some times when I was determined to keep trying to solve a programming problem, and would continue for hours without success, only to find the next morning (after rest) the answer almost magically appeared.

I especially use this formula to improve (grow) my photography. I purposely look for images that will be difficult (stress) to capture, either because of lighting or composition challenges. Even though I might not get exactly the image I wanted, the photos improve (grow). But an important part is to spend time reviewing the photos (rest) to see what worked well, and what didn’t. I spend hours watching slideshows of photos and usually learn something by doing so.

This formula can also apply to my spiritual life. During periods of rest I think about ways I am being challenged (stress) to understand things like white privilege or Indigenous spiritual practices. Prayer and meditation are the tools I use to try to make progress related to these things and over time, grow spiritually.

I look forward to being offered opportunities to grow by accepting invitations to do things like give presentations or clerk a committee. These things often are quite stressful, but I know I will grow as a result of trying to figure out how to do these new things. A recent example of that relates to being clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee for my Yearly Meeting, some of which I tried to explain in yesterday’s blog post. I often make mistakes, sometimes hurting others in the process, sometimes getting very discouraged. But seeing these things as stresses that will eventually lead to growth helps put things in perspective.

I eagerly took the challenge of becoming connected to the Kheprw Institute, the Black youth empowerment organization in Indianapolis. I recognized this would be an opportunity to begin to really learn about race relations, even though it was pretty intimidating at first. I’ve made mistakes, but I have definitely grown.

If we want to grow, we have to seek out these stressful situations. We have to assume we will make mistakes, because how else does anyone learn? If you keep doing the things you have always done, in the way you always do, there is no growth there.

One of the best things I got out of our recent Yearly Meeting sessions was a feeling that the Peace and Social Concerns committee has recognized how little we actually know about racism and privilege. People were hurt in the process of discovering this. But we have accepted the challenge to learn more about this for ourselves, and so we can use what we learn to help our Yearly Meeting learn about, and move away from white privilege and systemic racism. We have taken on the stress of this so that we will be able to grow.

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