After a soccer scrimmage my coach made the observation that I was not subbing myself off the field frequently enough.I had been playing but not as hard as my mates.I had been keeping track of them and giving them a chance to sub out and take a break before me.Then when I took my turn, I waited to make sure my mate heading back to the field had the rest she needed.
I explored this with my coach, checking my assumption that if I am not getting tired, I should let others go ahead of me.There was silence, and I fully expected him to say, “yes, of course”, but he answered, “no.”The reason – if you don’t take time for yourself, your teammates will see you as a workhorse and count on you to stay on so they can take their breaks.It won’t add up to anything good for you or the team.
I further digested this with a colleague of mine who revealed he is taking a 2-year break from volunteering.We started thinking about how we know people we can rely on to pick up what needs to get done – regardless of how much energy they have to do it.But we rarely find people who balance the need to step in with the need for look after themselves.
In a real game situation my coach will tell me when to sub off.But in real life, if I wait for someone to tell me, it won’t happen.And like in soccer, I will lose stamina over time, I will lose my mental agility to see what needs to get done, let alone be able to do it well.I will cause harm to my team AND make it impossible for fresh legs to apply themselves to the cause.
Subbing off is an expected and necessary part of the game, but there is a conundrum to learn to live with: when you are off the field, you are still in the game.