Proud to be an aggressive “go-getter?” You might want to rethink that attitude and let things come to you once in a while. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar said it well, “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.” This quick and ambitious readiness to fight or act can be a harmful impulse.
Your best ideas no longer come in the shower. Maybe back when we leisurely soaped up and left the conditioner in for the full amount of time — but no more. Innovation powers up into a stride when the health of your body, your mind and your interpersonal interactions peak in unison.
Exceptional performers have built durable habits around these three force multipliers. We see far too many fast-talkers on their fifth startup filling their “narrative” with terms like second round, scaling, blockchain, third round, unicorn and disruption. Here are some thoughts on a better way — a more genuine way — to make your mark and to do something that will last.
Let’s discuss a triangle of events and habits that give the mind and body a rest and then a platform for performance. Call it common sense or a competitive edge, but know this, you will never spot great opportunities while overburdened, fatigued and buried in online minutia. You can be a performance outlier by getting enough rest, changing your scenery and gathering first-hand information gently squeezed out of others.
Sleep. Most human bodies perform best with seven hours of sleep a night. Aim for a consistent seven hours — and now shoot for eight. That extra hour is your slush fund — especially if you exercise. You can use it or lose it from time to time. Don’t brag about getting by with five hours — except for rare exceptions it’s killing you or someone around you. I had a psychology professor who said that after three good nights of sleep he could change the world. Remember this; you don’t feel the power of sleep until you’re getting it.
Vacation. It’s not just about yourself. You’ve already set most of the lifestyle habits you will take with you to the grave. Younger people in your family or the organization will mimic everything you do. Employees will dress as you do and try to match your office or messaging hours. Your vacation habits will impact recruitment, retention and morale. Unfortunately, if you were raised in the United States you saw people punished for leaving early. You witnessed retaliation for taking time off. You probably overheard someone being ridiculed as soft or a slacker for taking time with family. This thinking is a cancer. Even mini-vacations do measurable good. Those with high self-esteem take time for themselves. It’s a disease worth spreading. Your vacation directly impacts productivity.
Conversation. Start by asking direct questions that gently lead into meaningful chit-chat. By selecting a concrete topic you get past awkward silence or embarrassing clichés about the weather or the government. If you’re going to lead people you must be able to start and continue a conversation. The result is in the information you obtain and the gift you offer your employee or subordinate. You get the data not included in emails, texts, posts, or tweets. They get to relax with a superior and actually relay information about themselves, their families or the job. It’s a smart win for all. During a conversation search and listen for something you can genuinely compliment. If their logic is good — say so. When they make an excellent point — mention it. When they show vulnerability — acknowledge it.
So, take the bard’s advice from Caesar to Antony and every once in a while try putting the “lean and hungry look” aside as you refresh your body, view some new scenery and listen carefully to others.
Rick Griggs is a former Intel Corp. training manager and inventor of the rolestorming creativity tool. He runs the 10-month Leadership Mastery Academy. firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-690-7327.