In Your (Day) Dreams
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
Many (many) years ago, when I was in school, I was frequently getting in trouble for daydreaming. Perhaps it was late May, the water was warming in the lakes of Central New York, and my mind would wander to fishing. I would sketch drawings of my little twelve-foot fishing boat with its six horsepower Evinrude motor. Those were wonderful times. Except for the lost instruction time that was sorely missed as I sat for my year-end exams.
In his book Focus, Daniel Goleman reports that at least half of our thoughts throughout the day are daydreams. Goleman goes on to say, “There may well be advantages to a mind that can entertain the fanciful.” A man after my own heart! Where was he when I was getting in trouble for it? In all seriousness, planning for times of “daydreaming” might actually be a strategic advantage. The key is to work on getting the mind to wander toward something of value as opposed to way from it. I was able to experience this in such a powerful way last July.
It was July 1st, a Saturday, and the first day of my summer vacation. I was sitting alone in a cottage on Otisco Lake. Dear friends had allowed my family to use the cottage for the upcoming week. Because of a forecast that included rain all day, I was the only one that wanted to go to the cottage. I sat at the dining room table that overlooked the lake. The water was a forest green color and perfectly calm in the stillness of the morning. Each raindrop made small, perfectly round splashes on the mirror-like surface. My coffee cup, filled with a dark roast, was adding a wonderful aroma to the delightful smells of this summer home. At that very moment I was struck with wonderful mind wandering and the plan for Transformational Leadership flowed into my mind. I had tried for months to develop that program. Months of pressure-packed work sessions with nothing to show for it. On this day, this wonderful day with nothing to think about but raindrops splashing on a forest green lake, the entire program unfolded in just two hours.
What was so special about that moment, that day, that time? My mind was allowed, almost encouraged, to wander. I was on vacation with nothing to do but enjoy a rainy day alone. The days of absorbing ideas and content were over. Now was the day to do nothing but let my mind wander. That’s what was so special. Simple, yet very special. A perfect day that brought so much value to my life and the lives of those who participate in the Transformational Leadership program. What a tragedy if I had determined to fill that rainy day with something (seemingly) more important.
Please join Marisa Norcross and me on The Next Page podcast as we talk about setting the stage for purposeful daydreaming.