The calendar tells us it is 2015. Another year of striving for and realizing freedom, justice, love, sustenance, and general well being. I am fortunate to support individuals and organizations be life affirming in their ends and means.
My big lesson of 2014 was the value of self-care-to me personally and to my clients. Last year I took time to discover that I love painting. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my professional role-except that I love it and am happy when I do it. I also returned to social dancing in 2014. A couple of hours of moving with a partner to great music feels joyful and healthful. That joy extends to the meetings, coaching sessions, and organizational change processes I facilitate. I am more focused when at work, more patient, creative, and effective.
In case all this frivolity seems irrelevant to the hard-nosed activists and leaders who also over-work, it is worth noting that the creativity needed to see challenges from new perspectives, to propose disruptive solutions to social issues, or to synthesize seemingly disparate ideas is aided by stepping away from work itself. Insight uses the unconscious-it’s why you get the a-ha moment in the shower. Letting the unconscious do its work is supported by shifting focus entirely away from the dilemma of the moment, as in going for a walk or pursuing an activity that has absolutely nothing to do with work. After all, even Einstein had his violin. “Increasing happiness increases the likelihood of insight, while increasing anxiety decreases the likelihood of insight” (Rock, 2009, p80-81).
I notice when I share the information about my art and dancing with colleagues and clients, the reaction is almost always the same-an almost palpable hunger to explore something that is not work or responsibility related. I hear a deep wish to replenish the well of spirit and creativity, a yearning for rest and restoration that is different than down time or a weekend. They want more than just to do, exhale, go, go, go. It turns out brain science and old sayings agree-all work and no play makes one dull. Add a bit of play and vibrancy returns, and along with it, greater effectiveness.
So, in 2015 I intend to continue having fun. In fact, I have signed up for an art course. Can’t wait. What will you do to take care of yourself, and therefore, be even more effective in your leadership? If you feel guilty, consider the model you set if you only work. What life affirmation do you demonstrate if you are not replenishing your well of creativity and resilience? So go ahead, take music lessons, dance, paint, do pottery, go for long bike rides. Remember, Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
Wishing you a fun filled year full of insight and impact.
Rock, D. (2009). Your brain at work: strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus, and working smarter all day long (1st ed.). New York: Harper Business.