I’ve been “off the grid” for a few days. It was enforced by being in several National Parks, including Glacier and Yellowstone. Places with no internet service and no cellular service. Places where there is no dopamine rush to the brain from the instant gratification of looking up an answer to a question, checking email, or immediately calling someone with information.
The feeling of calmness that came from disconnecting from the digital world is starting to fade as the demands of life appear again. But the time to think, to really “be” with family, and to stand in awe of the natural world brought renewal and new ideas.
As I was catching back up with the blogs I follow, I discovered Daniel Pink’s recent post: The Genius Hour: How 60 minutes a week can electrify your job. He writes about the power of taking one hour a week for improving skills or seeking out new ideas. The credit union in the story makes it happen by putting it on the schedule, having the boss pitch in, and getting the ideas implemented and skills used. Pink includes links to articles about Google’s innovation time and Atlassian’s Fedex Days.
Since I can’t live in the National Parks, I will remember that one hour a week can make a difference. And, I’m considering ideas from How Genius Works about how to best use that hour .
What would you do with one hour a week to dedicate to mastering a skill or learning something new? What difference would it make in your organization if each person had one hour to dedicate?
This past weekend Jon and I went on an adventure to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. A decade ago, I used to make an annual pilgrimage to the refuge every December for their Eagle Days celebration. The time there brought back wonderful memories of friends and the experiences we shared. It was a reminder that it is important to choose how I spend my time.
Daniel Pink recently asked a similar question, “Is what I’m doing right now going to be of lasting value to me or to others?”
In my world, time gets consumed online in-between meeting after event after meeting all while texting to keep business and family schedules synced and moving. The reality is that I’m riding along on the wave and taking my family and business along for the ride. What I choose directly influences who I become and what lasting value I create.
It’s time to stop and ask the question, “Is what I’m doing right now going to be of lasting value to me or to others?” And, then reflect on how I am choosing to use my time.
And yes, we saw over 30 eagles.
I like this quote that I found in The Mind & The Brain (Schwartz & Begley):
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
From brain research done in the last 5 years, we learn that neurons (brain cells) that fire together wire together. The question is, “What do we repeatedly do?” We can either be creating excellence or mediocrity.
Daniel Pink recently listed his seven rules for writing. I’m going to modify a few of them here along with my own comments and ideas about maintaining daily habits.
- Show up. Be present in each moment. It’s the only one I have.
- Be useful. Seek out ways to be useful whether it’s helping with a tedious task at the office or putting dishes in the dishwasher.
- Move. Exercise releases the stresses that build up over time and allows ideas to come to the front of my mind.
- Connect. Have a meaningful conversation with a friend or co-worker each day. If you ask, “How are you?”, stop to really listen to the answer.
- Be thankful. Look for one thing each day to be grateful, even if it’s simple like the sunshine falling on the floor or a beautiful raindrop hanging from a branch.
- Take one action. Act on and do one thing each day to advance your dream.
- Eat well. Food nourishes me and gives me energy, which is why I choose whole foods as often as possible. (Many of my readers know that I’ve followed the Dean Ornish program since 1997.)
- These rules work for me. Your mileage may vary.
I remind myself to keep the momentum going. Like turning a flywheel, restarting a habit takes far more energy than maintaining one. As we commit to develop personal habits of excellence, our organizations and families will change along with us.
Jon and I have long put forward the idea that leadership and management are two different things. We’ve defined management as the action of organizing the details of day-to-day operations. But often the word organizing becomes controlling. Yet years of research in human and organizational behavior show that controlling won’t get organizations the results they want.
Daniel Pink has a new book coming out in a few weeks. Here’s an excerpt:
Management is great if you want people to comply – to do specific things a certain way. But it stinks if you want people to engage – to think big or give the world something it didn’t know it was missing. For creative, complex, conceptual challenges – i.e, what most of us now do for a living—40 years of research in behavioral science and human motivation says that self-direction works better.
And that requires autonomy. Lots of it.
If we want engagement, and the mediocrity busting results it produces, we have to make sure people have autonomy over the four most important aspects of their work:
Task – What they do
Time – When they do it
Technique – How they do it
Team – Whom they do it with.
After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.
. . . something worth thinking about. The challenge is to have the courage to go beyond thinking to gathering the courage to make the shift to a new way of engaging individuals in the workplace. If you want more to think about today, check out Justin Anderson’s take on shifting organizational culture.