Half-stopping – have you ever heard of that as a way for super busy leaders to recharge? I hadn’t. Be inspired then by David Rock’s “Half-Time August”.
Some time ago now I had listened to a video interview with David Rock. I was inspired by his innovative way, as a super busy leader, of recharging without completely stopping. This is what many super busy leaders tell me. They can’t stop, and I tell them that is essential for them to recharge. They know I am right but they can’t, or don’t know how, to do it.
For those of you who don’t know Dr David Rock, he is an Australian who, while living in New York, returns here a number of times a year to lecture and present on Neuro-Leadership of which he is the founder. His work is very cutting edge and he travels the world, presents constantly, consults to organisations and leaders, writes books and journal articles, runs webinars, does research, and coaches and mentors. In other words he is a super busy leader.
He did this interview, not in his suit, but in his T shirt, while he was on his annual holidays, what he called “Half-time August”, a ritual he engages in every USA summer. For leaders here in Australia the equivalent is “Half-time January”.
Every summer, David solves the super busy leader’s dilemma of not being able to stop work, as well as the work-life integration dilemma. He goes off with his family for a month – works half time and spends the other half with the family. He said that with the work he does, he cannot take even a fortnight off without it being incredibly stressful beforehand and afterwards. He can, however, take a whole month and work at a very much slower pace. He will often work 2-3 full days and then take long week-ends of 3-4 days when he does no work. Or he works half days and then spends the rest of the day with family.
What was significant about what he said, however, was that it wasn’t just the stopping, relaxing and spending quality time with family that was important for him, but what happened to his thinking and reflection during that month. In this holiday space, he said, he thinks differently, that there is a different quality to his thinking. There is a different level to his reflection. Because he has more “SPACE”, he has bigger thoughts that are more sustaining.
So if you are in the northern hemisphere, one way to solve those two dilemmas – not being able to stop work and managing your work-life integration problem – is to take a “Half-time August” break, but to all my leader colleagues in the southern hemisphere, we can embrace “Half-time January”.
The Importance Of Creating A SPACE Away From Your Desk For Thinking Big.
The SPACE in which you work every day, your office and your desk, is anchored to what you do there, both physically and psychologically. You have meetings and discussions there; you work on your computer; you send emails; read and write reports; you answer phone calls; you file documents; you meet with your staff and manage their performance. Your thinking is highly geared to optimising your performance of those tasks in that space.
Research has shown that it then becomes very difficult to psychologically shift to creative and innovative thinking in that same space because that type of thinking does not take place in the office or while you are at your desk or in front of your computer.
This is what David Rock had discovered during “Half-time August”. Even while his daily work is very cutting edge and many would see it as very creative and innovative, he thinks even bigger when he moves away from that space he frequents every day. That new SPACE is where leaders recharge. You cannot recharge from your office. So even the very small steps you may take to move away from your desk, for example by going outside in your lunch break, will lead you to that recharge SPACE.
It is in that recharge SPACE that you re-ignite your energy and managing your energy is more important than managing your time. You only have 24 hours of time in every day, but your energy is limitless, depending on how you manage it. Allowing yourself as a super busy leader to become stressed and overwhelmed because you perceive yourself to not have enough time to meet every priority depletes your energy very quickly. If as a leader you can first begin to take time to recharge, you will discover the psychological space to think in more exciting, creative and innovative ways, and to tap into your inner self where there is much more potential than you have every explored or discovered.
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This is the third in a series of blogs on how leaders manage their stress and overwhelm, their time management and the setting of priorities. Previous posts are able to be accessed on my blog.