Slow Down – to Be Creative
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

We are constantly encouraged to move quickly.  Moving fast and constantly has become the way we are instructed to live.  However, this is not always the best mode of operation.  Slowing down is necessary for deep, meaningful exploration.

The human brain is not a computer.  It was never designed to move quickly and continuously.  The more we learn about it the more we need to adjust how we use it.  The human brain needs to recharge – as do our bodies.  Sleep is not a nice thing to do every once in a while, it is a daily need we all have.  According to more than one authority, two or more sleepless nights can have the same effect on your brain as being legally drunk.  Would we let any of our team members operate heavy machinery or make critical decisions while drunk?  Well, we essentially do when they do not get proper rest.  It can be dangerous.

But, there is even more going on when we do not slow down and properly rest.  We lose the ability to be creative and make connections needed to be innovators.    Creativity is now a top three skill set company leaders want world-wide.  Brain research shows we cannot be truly creative when we are tired and stressed.  To be rested, we must slow down.  There really is no other way.

As for me, I find when I am relaxed I can make connections between concepts that were there all along but I was not able to see.  Also, I am so much calmer – and kinder – when I am well rested.  So many good leadership qualities are lived when we are rested and relaxed.  However, this is not always an easy thing to do in today’s hyper-connected and fast-paced world that we live in.  Sometimes, the best choice from our endless choices is to just turn off our devices and sit quietly – or take a nap.  Going to bed early and sleeping in can pay hefty dividends.  And, we can do this knowing it makes us better leaders – and better people.

I have many fond memories of my three daughters when they were little.  Today, they are 20, 23, and 25.  One of my favorites is of falling asleep with them as babies as they lie on my chest on our couch.  As a parent, like most parents in those early years, I was running on “fumes” more than a few times.  I would relish the times they fell asleep – and I got to sleep also – during our weekend times together.  When we connect with those we love and slow down to be with them we unleash a natural rejuvenation that helps us perform at our best.

When was the last time you took a well-deserved rest?  Vacation? Nap?  When have you last encouraged a stressed and tired co-worker to go home early and put their feet up?  When have you taken the time to help someone get out of the office early by lending your efforts to the task?  All of these acts of kindness are not only the right thing to do, they help you and others be more creative and innovative which can add real value to your bottom-line.  I hope you get to do any of these things for yourself – and others – real soon.