One of the most important factors in the life of the leader is simply thinking about his/her organisation. Easily said but how often do we actually take time out to reflect on the business and our part in it? We may think ABOUT it, yes, but do we also think INTO it?
It may be a subtle difference but it is well worth the consideration. We can almost substitute “worry” for “think” in so many instances when we really ought to be quietly cogitating on the business and its future outside the day to day detail. In that wonderful film, Bridge of Spies, the defence attorney asks the spy “Aren’t you worried about your possible fate?” and the spy replies “Why, would it help?:
One of the most significant parts of the Vistage experience is the annual retreat for the whole group where we go away to a pleasant venue and spend time together. Some groups in the UK have been overseas and my group had a memorable (for many reasons) retreat in a castle in Scotland which was next door (about four miles away in fact) to the legendary Castle of Dunsinane.
That sort of retreat is in a group context and on the other hand, Vistage speaker, Walt Sutton, reminds us of the saying of golfer Sam Snead who said “Take time out to smell the roses”. Walt encourages leaders to take time out for a solitary retreat which he describes as taking a metaphorical walk on the beach. No smart phones or notebooks. Just a quiet walk and perhaps work on an issue that is taking up too much time right now.
It is vital for the leader to realise that he/she is generally the only person in the business who actually thinks about it holistically, about its present and its future, about its vision and about its potential.
Yes, everyone in the business will give some thought to their job and its manifestations, but only the leader thinks about the business in a holistic sense. That thinking time is vital for the future of the business and it is usually the last thing in which the leader indulges.
There seems to be an inherent sense of guilt at apparently not doing anything visibly tangible but just sitting quietly and thinking. One member of my group did just that for a full day (after a lot of encouragement) to think about a relatively difficult issue in the business. When I asked him what had happened he said:
“At the end of the thinking day, nothing at all, but a couple of days later, ideas started to pop out and I was able to attack the problem”.
It is known that if we consider a problem, then close down and forget it, the brain continues to work on it subconsciously. Even if there doesn’t seem to be an immediate answer (our brain is not a smart phone) the answer can pop up seemingly out of the blue a day or two later.
Remember that if the leader doesn’t apply serious thinking to the business and its future, no-one else will and the future will just happen for good or bad.
Go smell those roses.
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