How do I find time to disconnect? In todays busy world of two kids, two jobs in our family, a fair amount of work travel, and building and now moving into our new house this seems to be the thing I have the hardest time with. There is the literal disconnecting, from either work or technology. I have gotten better at the work physicial disconnect over time. I am there at 8:30 and I leave by 5:30 almost without fail. The mental and technology disconnects have been much harder for me. In fact, the more I have time to think at work, the more time my brain stays engaged outside of my desk hours. And technology, ugh, no good at this.
My technology diconnect used to be via reading a book headed to bed. Lately that hasn’t worked. My book is on my iPad which is the source of most of my connections in the world (my work calendar, my email, the internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and this blog). I find myself instead of taking 30 minutes to read my book that I get started reading and then remember the ten things that I had meant to do that day and I begin to tackle a few on the spot. Is it just that the device is associated with productivity? Anyone else have this problem?
I am considering starting to read real books again. Honest-to-god printed books. So, 2000’s of me. My other solution is banning the iPad from my bedroom. That seems not practical though. It serves as my music, my alarm, my source of book, and a way to catch up on the news. Maybe I am rationalizing, but this doesn’t seem practical.
The only solution that I have had recently is the gym. Being there has helped to mentally disconnect. I go there and I am only focused on the physicial activity. This is giving me at least one hour, three days a week of separation from my to-do list. Not enough, but a start.
Please give me some advice if you are reading this. All of us have this challenge in some way, especially with technology, and I am wondering how you all are tackling it out there.
Throughout my career, one of the most helpful pieces of feedback I have received is to “let it come to you.” My first boss, Joe Haynes, gave me this advice. I don’t know the origin of the phrase officially, but most often I have heard it used in sports…”let the game come to you.” About a year ago, after an incident at my current job where I wish I would have applied this feedback, I decided to research a little bit more about this phrase.
One of the articles that I read was a review of Phil Jackson’s book Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success. In the review it explained Jackson’s characterization of Michael Jordan’s play. He described Jordan’s ability to lay back when he wasn’t on his game, and to not force it. Jordan had a deep confidence in his ability, and he never felt as if he had to prove his greatness. This was contrasted to Kobe Bryant, who although a tremendous player, pushed hard even when he wasn’t on his game or when the defense had him.
“Jordan was also more naturally inclined to let the game come to him and not overplay his hand, whereas Kobe tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.” – Phil Jackson
In my career, I have always been the young one, feeling like the underdog. I remember celebrating turning thirty professionally. I felt like I no longer had to explain away my lack of years in life. For some reason being the young one at the table made me feel like I had to go above and beyond to prove myself and build respect. I would put the pressure on myself to be good all the time. When things went wrong, I would overextend myself, giving more than was reasonable and trying too hard. Let’s call it the Kobe Bryant model. In hindsight, these moments were times that I should have just backed down…”letting the game come to me.” This personal reaction, driven often times by a lack of confidence, often hurt more than it helped.
Today, looking back, I am grateful for these experiences as they have helped me to be a better professional, leader and coach to my team. I have a renewed commitment to “let the game come to me” and to help develop this skill in my team. Thanks Phil.
Today I was able to attend a meeting with my creative team brainstorming ideas to make one of our conventions impactful for the physicians who will be attending, while helping to grow our business. I loved the vibe…we were all standing amongst an open, collaboration space; bringing ideas to the table; laughing and being serious all at the same time. I was reminded of the good that can come when you allow boundaries to drop, don’t bring a perceived right answer to the table, and allow for freedom of thought and discussion. It reminded me of a quote from a great book I read earlier this year and am thinking that I need to go back to study again: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.
“Frank talk, spirited debate, laughter, and love. If I could distill a Braintrust meeting down to its most essential ingredients, those four things would surely be among them.” – Ed Catmull
Catmull uses this book to share the lessons he learned as the co-founder of Pixar as they grew from an idea to a widely successful movie studio. He is passing on great advice to those of us who want to bring creativity into business every day. These Braintrust meetings were a gathering of most talented minds at Pixar that reviewed projects and ideas to help make them successful. What I love about this quote, and what I felt today in my meeting was the collective group of brains that were coming together to make something better. What made this stand out is that so often I feel like within my marketing team individuals feel like their idea is the best idea. They have a lack of willingness to share their idea for fear of it being taken, critiqued, or worst-case shelved. Todays meeting, and the fundamental premise of the Braintrust concept, is that ideas flourish with discussion, debate and commitment from individuals to deliver excellent work. So, a commitment for the week. Build a culture on my team that encourages creativity through discussion. Help people learn to realize the strength in sharing their ideas so that the ideas become better.