Every Thursday for a few hours between coaching calls, I do something critically important to my mental well-being. I grab a book from my inventory of unread books and a stack of fresh index cards and head over to our local library for a few hours. And then I think. (When I write out the index cards, I think deeply about the idea I’m capturing and how I might apply it.)
I’m not sure whether it’s the quiet or being surrounded by stacks of my favorite things (books), but I leave this setting with fresh ideas, solutions for problems, and always boiling over with energy for the next big push.
Ironically or serendipitously, my book for yesterday was: Never Stop Learning—Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself and Thrive, by Bradley R. Staats. In this fabulous, research-backed and anecdote-filled book, Staats includes a robust section on the importance of reflection on learning and well-being. My favorite quote: “Reflection builds self-efficacy—the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the course of action required to manage prospective situations.”
Slow Down to Move Faster:
Let me translate. You need to slow down to ultimately move faster and perform better.
One of the biggest challenges my executive and emerging leader clients face is navigating from inside the tornado. In the process, they tend to create mini storms of action, with a pace that shouts at everyone, “move, move, move.”
Dangers of Work Life Inside the Maelstrom:
And move they and their charges do, with a bias towards action often without consideration of vector. (All action and no vector = chaos.)
Unfortunately, the big issues of strategy, investment, problem-solving, talent development, and self-improvement don’t occur in the maelstrom.
A bit later in the day when I returned to my busyness, albeit, energized and focused, I tripped across an article from my friend, Scott Mabry writing, The Sense of Urgency Trap. It’s a fabulous piece with Scott’s take on the dangers of a “move, move, move” environment. Take a few minutes to read and think deeply about Scott’s points.
The moral to this story. We all need time to think and contemplate. Our brains grow exhausted from operating on the auto-pilot essential for constant motion. We rely on long-established grooves and habits to sustain that pace, and we don’t learn, nor, do we consider issues at the right level.
You don’t need a lot of time to quiet the noise, but you do need to do it regularly.
8 Ideas to Stimulate Thinking About Thinking Deeply:
- Take time to journal at the beginning or end (or both) of the day.
- Read something challenging before you start your day.
- Get up and move a lot. Just walking and thinking counts here.
- Practice fierce listening with your colleagues and strive to learn from them.
- Resist the urge to argue your point and ask questions to understand better the points your colleagues are making.
- Build in thinking time for groups.
- Take field trips.
- Or, find your local public library, grab a book and some note cards, and just think.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
“I’m too busy to find time to think,” is both ironic and unacceptable.