By Liz Bentley
I work with a lot of senior level women and men in companies all over the country. They are all extraordinary at what they do. They are breaking down barriers, mapping future opportunities, and thinking differently. To reach this level of success, they’ve learned to do one thing really well: “get a lot of sh*t done.” And I mean a lot. They are masters of execution and cranking through heavy workloads at lightning speed. Not only are they fast, but they are good. To be an Olympian in the workplace, you have to work at a quick pace and avoid mistakes. Plus, it helps to have a team as strong as you! Clients and markets don’t care how much sleep you get or how long you worked on a project. They care that it’s the best and that you are the best at serving them and their needs, whatever they may be.
To climb the ladder in any business, you have to master these skills of execution – speed and top quality work. But to rise to the next level, you have to do something very different – you have to think! From my study of human behavior, I find that “the doing” and “the thinking” can be in conflict with each other. Many of my clients that get caught in “the thinking” are moving too slowly and losing opportunity. Conversely, other clients who are too immersed in “the doing” are sometimes performing the wrong work or redoing work that wasn’t done right or could have been better from the beginning.
When we are in our busy season, it’s hard to balance “the doing” and “the thinking.” While we always want to be thinking, in the busy season we really have to dial into “the doing” to keep pace with the marketplace. With summer approaching most markets are slowing down. Usually there is a lull in July and/or August. During this lull, I am coaching my clients to use that time for “the thinking.” The slow time in your business – be it summer or any time – is the moment to rejuvenate your brain and bring back your creative and innovative outlook. It’s a time for what I call brain adventures. Here are some good ways to do it:
Rest – Rest comes first. Stop feeling like you always have to be in motion. Put your phone and computer away. Mute your group chat, get off of social media and shut down all screens. The brain cannot function unless it’s getting quality sleep. Slow everything down so that your whole body can recover and leave some time open for daydreaming.
Read – Go on an adventure from your armchair by reading a story instead of watching a screen. Reading takes you into another world, relaxes your mind and opens your thinking.
Move – Get your body in motion and take it outdoors – swim, bike, hike, play tennis or golf. Travel and see new places, go out for ice cream. Do the things you normally don’t have time to do. Try to get outside as much as you can since the calm of nature is very soothing and opens the mind.
Socialize – See people and connect; spend time nurturing your relationships. Devote the time to get into deep conversations and connect with all kinds of people. Make an extra effort to see people you have not seen in a while. Open your mind to hearing new perspectives and seeing the world through the lenses of others.
To differentiate yourself, your team or business, you have to be able to have fresh and innovative ideas. You want to really understand the value of your brand and service from the eyes of your consumers. By giving yourself the time and space to think, you’ll position yourself to answer these questions:
- What are you really good at and why does it matter?
- Where do you fall short and how can you mitigate it?
- What makes you different?
- How – if even in the smallest of ways – are you changing the world for the positive?
The market is changing at a fast pace, driven by advancements in technology, and the younger generations who are pushing for innovation and growth. It is a very competitive world and to stay relevant we have to be able to do and think. We have to be able to lead, which means to go first, do things others have not done, and explore uncharted territories. And while that sounds exciting, it doesn’t work when you are failing to think it through and leading people in the wrong direction. And it doesn’t work if you are only thinking big, but failing to execute and get it done.
To prepare yourself for a great second half of 2018, use this summer to rejuvenate your mind and body. Re-center and ask yourself the most important questions. Align your values with your work and reinvest in yourself so that you can get ready to run hard in the right direction in the next busy season that awaits you.
Use this summer to find your greatness.