I have most of my best ideas in the shower.
Not when I’m sitting behind my PC; not when I’m in a meeting. Rather, when my mind is wandering, unfocussed and when my brain has slowed down.
That flash of brilliance will arrive with the speed of a Tasmanian Devil between the two shampoos, seemingly eons away from me being able to record it in something other than my addled brain and I’ll spend the rest of my shower trying desperately to commit it to memory so that it doesn’t escape from reality never to see the light of day.
You know exactly what I mean, don’t you? Whether you’re on a long drive, daydreaming about your holiday or going for a run, that’s when you’re at your most creative, when your ideas float to the top without any real effort. When we rest our brains, our best work comes out.
People much smarter than I have researched this phenomenon and it has a rather fancy name – “vigilance decrement”. According to author Joe Sanok, “vigilance” stands for how well we pay attention and “decrement” means breaking down over time. In other words, we have a certain amount of “vigilance” at our disposal and this reduces over time. Our ability to pay attention decreases over time. Still with me?
To prove this, researchers gave students a mindless, boring task. Some they gave a break every 20 minutes, others they did not. They found that a one-minute break every 20 minutes makes vigilance decrement nearly disappear. Even a one-minute slow down can increase productivity. For Winston Churchill this took the form of an obligatory afternoon nap and Steve Jobs would insist on holding meetings while walking. For me, it’s that shower.
Apparently zoning out can make you more productive, which seems a little counter-intuitive in our urgency addicted society. According to the Harvard Business Review, when we turn to our devices every time we get bored or find a break in the flow of work, we keep ourselves constantly processing new information.
Being “always on” like this can make us less productive because it can block the brain processes that occur and put off immediate desires in favour of future rewards.
I’m still not sure I can fully embrace this story, but word on the science street is that if top teams slow down, they go deeper and faster into achieving their objectives. They deal more effectively with increased complexity and challenges, and they use less energy.
My scepticism too has a name, according to this McKinsey article. Most leadership theories continue to be based on the Newtonian worldview where leaders strive to control and structure their challenges and guarantee outcomes, which entails engaging in a quick discussion and moving as fast as possible from A to B in a controlled and straight line.
Thing is, apparently the Newtonian worldview no longer aligns to tackle today’s challenges. Enter the Quantum worldview where everything connects and we accept our challenges are complex. No newsflash required here. Complex is our every day.
Quantums recognise that we need to pace the speed of our work, slowing down in some moments for a deeper dialogue and understanding of our challenges and speeding up elsewhere. In other words, slow down to speed up. Can I have a ‘hell yes’ for a Winston-inspired nap this arvie?
So, this week and for the foreseeable future, I give you permission to have that a-ha moment by slowing down instead of whirling yourself into the frenzy of a Category 5 hurricane chasing 20 pink rabbits and not catching any.
Take a pause for the sake of productivity, daydream and have that creative epiphany, then set the right attention and intention and direct your energy to the right things at the right time.
The result? Less noise, higher-quality output and the knowledge that by taking that breath you’re actually gaining time; not wasting it.
Thank you, Winston.
The power of parody in memorable marketing was once again demonstrated by tiny Iceland, a destination that consistently punches above its weight in the destination marketing stakes.
Many of us were underwhelmed by Mark Zuckerberg’s practiced explanation about Facebook / Meta’s pivot to the metaverse, which became something of a meme.
Quick off the mark, our Icelandic friends conjured up Zack Mossbergsson, Chief Visionary Officer of Icelandverse, who took us on a journey inside and out about “a revolutionary approach on how to connect our world without being super weird”.
Zack continues: “Some said it’s not possible. Some said it’s out of reach. To them, we say, it’s already here.” Cue the soul-stirring shots of beautiful Iceland – bursting geysers, plunging waterfalls and, of course, an Icelandic horse.
Yet another brilliant marketing stunt from Destination Iceland, tapping into an existing conversation, making it their own in a memorable way and succeeding in getting the world to share how beautiful Iceland is in just 2 mins 24 seconds.
Metaverse vs Icelandverse – I know where I’d rather spend my next holiday.
What the world was musing over this week
What happens in an Internet minute in 2021
In our everyday lives, not much may happen in a minute. But when gauging the depth of Internet activity occurring all at once, it can be extraordinary. Today, around five billion Internet users exist across the globe.
Full-face sunglasses are a thing
Step aside Ray Bans, full-face sunglasses like these are now being sold on Amazon, eBay and even Etsy. Ideal for those of you who’d rather gargle wasps than switch your Zoom camera on during a virtual meeting and perhaps appropriate attire for that metaverse one day.
Do I look bigger?
As the US opened its borders, the media was filled with heart-warming stories of reunions. At JFK, a child held a sign reading, “Do I look bigger?” as he waited for the first BA flight from Heathrow. “730 days missed u! Aunty Jill + Uncle Mark,” his sign said.
Help make ‘Travel with a conscience’ a reality
Heard of MEETCHANGEMAKERS? They’ve launched a new campaign for the travel industry around the idea of ‘social compensation’ allowing socially conscious travellers to give back to the communities with whom they come into contact.
Have you had your #Jab4Tourism?
As the summer season approaches, we know our customers are choosing to support businesses that are fully vaccinated. Together we can go out with a clear message that South Africa takes the safety of its staff and guests seriously by embracing widespread vaccination.