In 1386, a convicted pig was dressed in a waistcoat, gloves, drawers and a human mask for its execution. In 1474 a crown court found a rooster guilty of the “unnatural crime” of laying an egg; and remarkably, there was a trial of dolphins in Marseilles in 1596.
We don’t do that anymore.
Circa 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle announced that the Earth was a sphere, based on his observations of constellations and solar activity. Before that, and indeed long after, the worlds most skilled navigators urged caution, since we could quite literally, sail off the edge of our flat earth into the abyss.
We don’t believe that anymore (mostly, anyway!).
Married couples in medieval Germany didn’t waste time when it came to solving their disputes. They often took to the ring. Trial by single combat, while the husband’s right hand was tied and the wife carried a bag of rocks on her back, was a popular way to solve disagreements.
We don’t do that anymore (hopefully!).
If you are wondering where the point is, and I promise there is one, here it is:
When humans know better — we generally do better.
Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the corporate landscape when it comes to creating space for executives to generate their best ideas. By best ideas, I mean those ‘Aha Moments’ that seem to come out of nowhere. We have known for decades that our most creative insights flow when space is created for them to do so. That generally happens when a period of incubation is permitted to occur.
In fact, when high performing executives in the United States were surveyed and asked when they tended to get their best ideas, their top 3 answers were as follows:
- On vacation
- In the shower
- While travelling to and from the office
— J. Smart, Clarity.
In other words, when they are not working.
Despite this, mentally exhausted and overworked executives, who regularly work 10 hour days (12 in Japan) and take 10 vacation days per annum, are expected to sit down in the workplace and try really hard to generate a new idea or solve a complex problem. I felt exhausted just writing that!
We have to do better.
The philosophy that leaders come up with their best ideas in the workplace, seems like a belief that needs to be thrown into the flat earth pot. It is outdated and strategically flawed.
What’s more, without creating space for themselves and their thoughts to flow organically, leaders can end up exhausted. They unwittingly roll down a road called something like Burnout Avenue. What you are 100% not going to find at this addresses, is fresh, clear thinking and creative insight. Wrong zip code entirely.
In my experience working with high performers, almost all can relate to the reality that fresh, new thought arrives when the mind is in a more relaxed, contemplative state. This can happen in a high performance coaching session, while taking a walk in the woods or even while washing dishes.
In fact, billionaires Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates insist on scrubbing plates themselves as it offers a chance to relax and daydream. And Neuroleadership experts say it’s just this sort of loose mind-wandering that allow us to make some of our most innovate and unexpected leaps.
Almost always, these ‘insightful pings’ occur when we are fully present in the now, and not recycling loops of contaminated thinking.
I will sign off with 1 simple question for you.
Do you create enough space for yourself?
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If you are a leader, you may be interested in our High Performance Circles. They are for niche groups of leaders who share and support each other through the challenges of leadership. They offer a confidential thinking space where the collective wisdom of all becomes accessible to each member. Each Circle provides a mutually beneficial source of inspiration, information, and collaboration. Your Circle members listen, offer their advice when appropriate, and help you find solutions. In essence, you gain an immediate network of high performers that are just as eager to collaborate with you, as you will be to collaborate with them. Far more than a typical network, your High Performance Circle is your inner circle — your A-team.