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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Try the Saintly Method - Cut Down on Tension!

A recent broadcaster on Radio 4 mentioned a saying by St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274, (now there’s name dropping for you) that life is like a bow – if the bow string is left on so that the bow is permanently in tension, then eventually it will break.  The tension needs to be released from time to time to allow the bow to relax.

That is some metaphor for modern life.  The impact of smart phones, laptops, tablets and so on has made communication so much easier but, frankly, now to the point that it intrudes into every facet of our existence.

Not only do we check our emails, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn at the office or workplace, but we can (and do) check them while we watch TV, sit round the dining table, go to the cinema, play golf; in other words anywhere we feel it necessary to see who has been in touch.

It is worth asking the question: when did you last get a message out of normal working hours that was so vitally important that something needed to be done instantly?

The follow up question is: how important are the messages that you normally get after normal working hours that they can’t wait until the next day to be actioned?

The trouble is that all this communication (if that is what it is) can be very addictive or even compulsive.  Simply because our smart phone “pings” we deem it essential to take a look to see what has come in irrespective of where we are or with whom we are.

So, back to the saintly Thomas.  He got it absolutely right.  Unless we release the tension in our lives, (and that is something well within our control), then eventually we can break.  It’s all a matter of balance - balance between the day to day needs of the business and leadership, and the equally pressing needs of life outside business.  One of the nine fundamentals of the leader as propounded by Vistage speaker Walt Sutton is “Get a Life”.

There IS life outside business, believe it or not, and there are so many things that we can do which contribute to a fuller and less compressed existence.

One of them it to switch off that smart phone, laptop, tablet from time to time and do something else.  The mission statement of Vistage is that we are “dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of leaders”, and that can only be achieved by making a determined effort to get some balance into our lives.

One way is to unfasten that bow string and let the bow relax a little.  Thank you, St Thomas Aquinas and whoever it was on Radio 4 who mentioned him.

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
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