Slivers of Recovery: The Key to High Performance

15 Feb 24 | Leanne Spencer

Leanne Spencer is a female keynote wellbeing speaker specialising in stress management, burnout prevention, recovery and resilience. In this latest blog, Leanne discusses the importance of recovery in order to achieve the highest levels of performance.


It’s my observation that many of us expect to perform at the highest level all year round, something that you might get away with in the short term but simply isn’t sustainable in the medium to long term. Pushing past our limits are not prioritising recovery affects our energy, mood and motivation and leads to chronic stress and burnout. One group of people who are good at managing energy are athletes; they anticipate when they need to perform, make some small changes which prepare them for the task ahead, they perform and then get some recovery before going again.

Business is an endurance sport with occasional sprints. Or perhaps it’s more like an endurance sport with frequent sprints, but either way, wouldn’t it be better if you and your teams saw yourselves as business athletes and paced and managed your energy accordingly.

We call this the Cadence Approach, and it’s the key to high performance. Cadence is a simple four-step approach:

· Predict – when are the big events coming up in your professional and personal life

· Prepare – what small changes can you make to build your bulletproof

· Perform – but respect your red flags that indicate you’re going too fast

· Recover – prioritise daily slivers of recovery help to beat burnout


The recover phase is arguably the most important, so let me bring this to life with a short story. In March 2019, my partner Antonia and I took part in the Arctic Circle Race, the world’s toughest ski race. It’s 160km cross-country in Greenland, taking place across 3 days while camping out on the snow. Day one of the race began with smiles and excitement, but it wasn’t long before Antonia and I found ourselves at the back of the pack and it became clear that we had bitten off significantly more than we could chew.

What I thought I’d enjoy – the splendid mountains and the solitude – became menacing and imposing. I started to feel very anxious. Things got so bad that I was adamant that if we reached the finish for the day, I was quitting.

Fourteen hours later we finally skied in towards the stage 1 finish line, and I saw one of the volunteers, an Inuit woman wrapped in fur-lined clothing, holding her arms out open. At this point I was desperate for a hug from a maternal-looking woman and so I skied into her arms, and we hugged tightly for what felt like several minutes. Eventually I moved away from her, and she pulled me in again for another long hug.

When she eventually we let each other go, Antonia persuaded me not to go to the event organiser’s tent, but instead to go to the mess tent and change. After that, she was able to persuade me to go to the food tent, and eventually to our two-man tent where we slept for the night. I eventually finished the race by breaking it down into smaller, less overwhelming chunks. We came dead-on last!

I’ll never know for sure as I have no plans to do the race again, but I don’t think I’d have finished that race without that hug. It gave me the headspace to consider taking the next small step, then the next one, and eventually getting the race finished. It’s what I now know to be a sliver of recovery.

So, my question to you is what will your sliver of recovery be, and how can you ensure you get these on a daily basis?


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Leanne Spencer

Leanne Spencer


Leanne Spencer is a female keynote wellbeing speaker specialising in stress management, burnout prevention, recovery and resili...