Blogs of Note for the Week Ending December 26, 2014
Every day I learn something that advances my leadership knowledge and competency. Here are quotes from 5 blogs that got my attention this week. I don’t benefit from reposting any of these posts. Sometimes, I don’t even know the writer. However, I do read and personally grow my knowledge by reading posts that challenge my thinking and get me to think outside my old paradigm. It’s not important that you agree with any of these writers. It’s only important that you think. I hope you will find some new sources of inspiration with these posts. Here’s the next group of 5 in the series:
This week’s Friday 5 is centered around my theme for the holiday season – balance. Some of the posts were published earlier than this week, but are still recent. Enjoy!
Ray B. Williams
Reflection and “Doing Nothing” Are Critical For Productivity
One of the biggest complaints I hear from my executive coaching clients, and also people in general, is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. The typical response from them about their life is often described as “crazy,” “too busy,” or “up to my neck in alligators,” often said with a mixed tone of desperation and pride. Not enough people believe the compelling evidence which shows that “doing nothing” is required for optimal brain functioning.
Even in their time off, people are insanely busy exercising, texting, taking lessons, or attending social events. And when there are a few minutes in between all these activities, what do many people do? Check their smartphones for voice mail, email and troll their various social media sites.
Manfred Ket De Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership development and Organizational Change, writing in INSEAD Knowledge argues, “In today’s networked society we are at risk of becoming victims of interaction overload.
Manfred Kets De Vries
The Importance of Doing Nothing
In today’s networked society we are at risk of becoming victims of information overload. Introspection and reflection have become lost arts as the temptation to ‘just finish this’ or ‘find out that’ is often too great to resist. But working harder is not necessarily working smarter. In fact slacking off and setting aside regular periods of ‘doing nothing’ may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health.
Busyness vs productive occupation
Our lives have become defined by busyness. Look around you at the train station, in cafes, out on the street, people are glued to their mobile handset or tablet.
I recently asked an executive I once coached how many emails she received a day. “Five hundred,” she told me. “But I don’t read any of them. If I did, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
The Effectiveness of Doing Nothing as a Leader
“OK, now here’s what you need to do. You’ve got this great new position, leading your own team, with all of its requisite responsibilities and risks. What you need to do is forget about what helped make you successful and do what doesn’t come naturally. Instead, you need to adopt a philosophy and a style of behavior that runs counter to all of your instincts. As a leader, you should not only do less of the everyday work, your goal should be to do nothing!”
How many people will buy this advice? What if they read an entire book that was written to advocate just this approach – published by a highly reputable publisher? Will that help?
Not likely. Skepticism is much more likely than compliance. I can say that most people react skeptically when they encounter the idea that leaders are more effective when they follow the advice in my book, Do Nothing! How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader.
Neuroscience: Idle minds
For volunteers, a brain-scanning experiment can be pretty demanding. Researchers generally ask participants to do something — solve mathematics problems, search a scene for faces or think about their favoured political leaders — while their brains are being imaged.
But over the past few years, some researchers have been adding a bit of down time to their study protocols. While subjects are still lying in the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners, the researchers ask them to try to empty their minds. The aim is to find out what happens when the brain simply idles. And the answer is: quite a lot.
Some circuits must remain active; they control automatic functions such as breathing and heart rate. But much of the rest of the brain continues to chug away as the mind naturally wanders through grocery lists, rehashes conversations and just generally daydreams. This activity has been dubbed the resting state. And neuroscientists have seen evidence that the networks it engages look a lot like those that are active during tasks.
No Time to Think
ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore.
When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.
And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device. So it’s worth noting a study published last month in the journal Science, which shows how far people will go to avoid introspection.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM