Taking 10 minutes to escape a rut
Friday, March 15, 2019
Whether it has been a frustrating quarter or the job itself is not as interesting as it once was, as leaders we all face times that challenge our ability to be inspiring. Yet, our teams and organizations depend on us to bring our best regardless of challenges.
While it does not work to pretend to be perfect, it does work to have tricks up our sleeve we can easily pull out when needed. Here are a few simple ways to get out of a rut and back into the leadership groove.
According to Priscilla Claman in her article on this topic for Harvard Business Review, one of the keys to getting out of a rut is to “think new.” Unfortunately, when we are stuck in a rut, often the last think we have the interest in doing is finding a new project.
Yet, getting the brain to think differently, whether that is simply to stop following the same rutty pattern in which we find ourselves or to engage in a new thought pattern altogether, is exactly the first step we need to take.
To make it easy, start by taking a 10-minute break. If it seems impossible to stop doing anything for 10 minutes or to meditate, then use the time to watch a five-minute video and indulge in five minutes of practical reflection about it.
To avoid using up those 10 minutes looking for a video, try this one on wrong thinking, also from HBR. Or this TED Talk from Yusuf Nurbhai, CAO for Global Markets in EMEA about trading employees like professional athletes. Or, just check in on the live stream of some wild animals in Africa, which is presumably quite different than what you are currently dealing with at work.
Doing so will at least stop our current pattern and get us thinking another way.
The next easiest step to take to change our thoughts and head out of that rut is to simply stop talking. If we join a meeting and just listen for a little longer than we normally would, we change the pattern of our responses.
Sitting within this self-imposed silence affords us the opportunity to hear things differently or at the very least, slow our thoughts and drive to respond, creating a new dynamic within the meeting. Similarly, allowing ourselves to indulge in a few minutes of day dreaming during a less than useful conference call can often provide the spark or respite we need to ignite a new thought process.
Perhaps taking a break seems indulgent or being in a rut seems like something we just have to tough it through. Neither are true.
Breaks do not have to be sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons to get the creative juices flowing again. Trying to power through a rut is more likely to increase our frustration than our ideas.
Instead, start by taking advantage of one of these quick changes. Making even a tiny shift in our approach can start us on a new path which is all we need to escape our rut.
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