In the search work we do with firms looking to enhance their organizational capabilities, we’ve noticed that our clients have big jobs, big mandates and big challenges. They also have very little time to think in big ways, yet all feel the need to transform some part of their organization. Each one of our clients is smart, hard-working, skillful and experienced. However, they lack something essential to their ability to lead their organizations to the next stage: time to reflect, feel and discern new insights.
In the long-ago days, before phones and computers, societies spent time in quiet reflection in dojos and sweat lodges, or while listening to music, walking in nature and star gazing. Today, we may think of these activities as frivolous, but research would insist that they’re not just good for the body and soul, but good for business.
Many of today’s leaders live their days in back-to-back meetings, most of which involve important and urgent content and people. Their weeks are a crushing whirl of problem solving, addressing issues and prodding capability. Yet many leaders don’t have enough time with their families or with their own thoughts. Somewhere in the midst of all this activity, a nagging and mounting concern flickers through their minds: just how to move the business forward.
In today’s modern and hectic world, we’re surrounded by – and perhaps even addicted to – “doing.” We’re addicted to action and yet this actually thwarts our full potential and impact. We overlook the value and importance of creating space in our day and week for “thinking time.” This is time to sense, reflect, hear and feel the path forward. In this quiet time, our bodies are able to process, digest and bring forth latent insights that can help propel us toward solutions that otherwise fall unused to the side. Our inherent gifts are often buried and need ample time and space to breathe, and to sense a next action or possibility.
Here are a few ways to get started creating “thought time” in your busy days and work weeks:
- Carve uninterrupted blocks of time into your calendar to think and develop new possibilities. This time is not for email. Often my clients find it hard to turn off the “doing” when they arrive at this spot on their calendars.
- Change your surroundings. Move to a table, a window or another inviting space, without your laptop or phone.
- Take one minute to breathe fully and deeply. Take a minimum of three deep, full and cleansing breaths with your hands unoccupied.
- Once you’ve succeeded in creating this time and space for yourself, relax and reflect, or write as a way of reflecting.
- Make a habit of starting your day or week with intention. What’s the most important set of conversations today that will move the business forward?
- Ask yourself each day what happened to advance your team, your clients, your business? This is a way to bring more of your work into focus, instead of just reacting to what comes your way each day.
- Ask yourself, is this the highest and best use of my experience and talent? Or should I be giving this assignment to someone else? As leaders, it’s easy to just keep “doing” when we need to be directing the strategic parts of our business. Delegating and developing your team is a huge way to build capacity.
- Consider these questions: what if my team were operating at one level higher than they are today? How would that change the business? Then figure out how to get them there.
- Spend time cultivating questions and curiosity. This can be as small as ten minutes a day in which you ask yourself how you want to evolve in your work, your practices, etc.
These steps help support the emergence of innovative ways forward, and their development into viable action plans. They deserve your consideration because the capacity to think is vital to leading for the future. What the world needs now are leaders who are curious, intuiting, and actively engaged in seeing the patterns and small experiments that can begin to change the course of tomorrow.
Can this be you? I know it can.
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About Megan Staczek and Leadership Coaching at Jamesbeck
In an effort to further align ourselves with our clients and ensure the success of our placements, in 2018, Jamesbeck partnered with Megan Staczek, an executive coach who brings 24 years of coaching and consulting experience to C-level executives and senior managers. As Jamesbeck’s coaching partner, Megan assists clients with seamlessly on-boarding and integrating selected candidates into their organizations. She also leads a coaching and consulting firm, Capacity Group, focused on helping leaders and teams grow and transform to meet new business challenges. Please reach out if you would like an introduction to Megan.