This past week, I visited one of Point Taken’s clients. Outside their beautiful facilities was an art installation titled – “Sisyphus.” For those not familiar with the Greek legend, Sisyphus spent an eternity rolling a rock uphill, just to have it roll back down every time he reached the top of the hill. He was cursed to spend eternity working, without having anything to show for it. No pile of rocks at the top of the hill – just never-ending uphill battles.

This made me think a bit about my working life and similarities to Sisyphus. How do I avoid wasted effort? In the real world, we could recognize that not rock every stays on top of the hill – and we should adjust accordingly. But unlike Sisyphus, our efforts are usually part of a bigger picture and each uphill push contributes to our learning and eventual success.

How do we ensure that more of our hard work is of the highest value? One of the ways to increase performance is to build in periods of rest. If we never stop going uphill, we will lose the ability to do this at the highest level. Rest is an integral part of creating peak performance.

Another approach is to reframe the work. Maybe reframing projects as something other than an uphill battle, that will just be followed by more endless uphill battles, will help us approach the work with more enthusiasm.

It’s important to remember, even if it feels like we aren’t making progress, we are not destined to do this work forever. Unlike Sisyphus, we can break the cycle – rest, reframe and look up at our successes stacked at the top of the hill.

Uphill Battles