Swapping motion for stillness. Chatter for calm.

male-solitude-guitar

Frank Bruni, NY Times: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:

  • …Take more time away. Spend more time alone. Trade the speechifying for solitude, which no longer gets anything close to the veneration it’s due, not just in politics but across many walks of life.
  • It’s in solitude that much of the sharpest thinking is done and many of the best ideas are hatched. We know this intuitively and from experience, yet solitude is often cast as an archaic luxury and indulgent oddity, inferior to a spirited discussion and certainly to a leadership conference…”
  • The calendar of a senior executive or public official is defined by meeting after meeting upon meeting. There’s no comparable premium on solitary pauses, on impregnable periods for contemplation, and a person who insists on them attracts a derogatory vocabulary: loner, loafer, recluse, aloof, eccentric, withdrawn.
  • “We live in the new groupthink — there’s a shared belief that creativity and productivity must be a collaborative experience, and solitude has fallen out of fashion,” Susan Cain, the author of the 2012 best seller “Quiet,” told me. But, she added, “There’s so much research that flies in the face of this.”
  • Cain’s book focuses on introverts, making the case that they have a kind of intellectual advantage. And their edge stems largely from greater amounts of solitude, from the degree to which they’ve swapped motion for stillness, chatter for calm. They’ve carved out space for reflection that’s sustained and deep.
  • This isn’t necessarily a matter of being unplugged, of ditching the hyper-connectedness of our digital lives. It’s a matter of ditching and silencing the crowd…

Read Bruni’s worthy full article here: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:


  • Photograph: Thank you Brenda @ Space2Live
  • Related Post: I Share @ Tiny Lessons Blog

 

 

Gotta know when to hold ’em

cards, leadership, management

I’m on a conference call.
A long conference call.
The discussion is stretching and swirling in a loop.
I can feel my patience growing thin.

Is this normal brainstorming? 
Or part of the creative process?  
Or is this a complete mess?  
Or is my lack of sleep clouding my judgment? 

My mind drifts.
I call up one of my favorite management books: QBQ by John Miller.
John would suggest that I ask the Question Behind the Question?

Why am I amped up?  
What have I done to contribute to the rudderless direction of this call?  

I think about that for a moment.
Nah, can’t be me. Of course not.

I let the debate go on. I listen in silently hoping the solve is coming.

I turn to gnawing on a finger nail.
Aren’t you too old to be biting your finger nails? Disgusting habit. [Read more…]

Lean in? No. Lean Back.

lean back

Excerpts From The EconomistIn Praise of Laziness:

“THERE is a never-ending supply of business gurus telling us how we can, and must, do more. Sheryl Sandberg urges women to “Lean In” if they want to get ahead. John Bernard offers breathless advice on conducting “Business at the Speed of Now”. Michael Port tells salesmen how to “Book Yourself Solid”…

Yet the biggest problem in the business world is not too little but too much—too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness. The Dutch seem to believe that an excess of meetings is the biggest devourer of time: they talk of vergaderziekte, “meeting sickness”. However, a study last year…suggests that it is e-mails: it found that highly skilled office workers spend more than a quarter of each working day writing and responding to them.

Which of these banes of modern business life is worse remains open to debate. But what is clear is that office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. Managers allow meetings to drag on for hours. Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.

[Read more…]

Meetings…

Wall Street Journal: Where's The Boss? Trapped in a Meeting

What do chief executives do all day? It really is what it seems: They spend about a third of their work time in meetings…18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings, more than three hours on calls and five hours in business meals, on average…Working alone averaged just six hours weekly…CEOs say they pine for more solo time to think and strategize…(however) CEOs say that meetings are an important part of their job, helping them connect with managers and clients, but can be a waste of time if they aren’t run efficiently.

Here’s the framework of my meeting structure and strategy:*

  1. Have an agenda and circulate it.  (Focus discussion on strategic priorities, road blocks and decisions.  Leave the general updates for email.  If there is no agenda, cancel the meeting.  Don’t waste time.)
  2. Schedule less time for meetings.  (“Meetings expand to fill the time you have.” If your meetings are generally one hour, cut them to 45 min or 30 min.  Keep the discussion and agenda moving.  Schedule separate longer meetings for brainstorming, planning and strategy sessions.)
  3. Don’t Schedule Meetings Back to Back.  (If you normally schedule a 1 hour meeting, schedule it from 10:00am to 10:45am.  This will give you time to jot down your follow-up notes.  It will allow you to catch your breath and de-compress.  And it will allow you to show up on time to the next meeting.)
  4. Start on Time.  (Don’t wait for late comers.  If being late becomes a habit for some, make it clear that this conduct is unprofessional and disrespectful.  Your team will quickly take your queue that you run a tight ship and respect everyone’s time.)
  5. End on Time.  (Again, if you set the routine, everyone knows what to expect.  And they will respect you for respecting their time.)
  6. Send around a follow-up email after the meeting.  (Who owns what by when.  Refer to the follow-ups during next meeting)

*(Now if I could just consistently practice what I preach…)

Sources & Great Posts on How To Run Meetings:

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