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Brain Food For Middle Managers: How to Keep the Creativity Alive

Photo by Giorgio Montazeri

I just got back from vacation.  Sorry about the long stretch not posting on the blog, but the site was undergoing some changes.  And, when I go on vacation, I go offline.

That most middle managers can’t go on vacation without being tethered to the office by a laptop or other mobile device is not only a crime, it’s counter-productive to the company.  This is something that Albert Einstein knew on an experiential level.  Whenever he had a problem he couldn’t tackle, he did something else.  He spent time with friends and family.  He gave his brain a break.

We all get mired in the day-to-day of what we’re doing.  Our brain wants to move back into default-mode as opposed to intention mode (which is why you see me talk about consciously setting intentions on Linked In, Facebook and Twitter).

We look at our day-to-day through the same patterns and filters, through the same lens.  Without a pattern interrupt, this cycle continues.

The problem with not taking a real vacation is that our brains never get a chance to disengage.  We never get that fresh perspective.  It means that we’re not doing our best work.

The problem for organizations is two-fold, maybe three-fold.  When we never are able to look at something with fresh eyes, we are probably a part of the problem.  Companies hire consultants to get those fresh eyes, when many times (especially with the help of a coach) their employees who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the business could come up with better solutions.

They lose the best brain power of the people they’ve hired to execute on their strategy (should they have a coherent one).  It’s like hiking on a narrow trail.  We’re so focused on your the ground in front of us making sure that we don’t step on a snake or trip over a tree root that we miss the larger scenery – which is why we are there in the first place.

Managers and organizations also lose the opportunity for growing the next level of leadership.  Allowing someone to be in charge and make decisions at the next level is real delegation.  For those of you who say that there isn’t someone like that in their organization that they can trust to make the right decisions, this is a major obstacle to you continued advancement.

What can you do if you can’t get away?

Take real breaks during your day.  Quiet your mind for 15 minutes.  Or, do something that taxes a different part of your brain, like a puzzle.  Get up and take a walk around the block.  Listen to some music.  While these aren’t as great for your productivity as a week-long cruise, it will help you to….

Be Your Best You Today,


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Today, I have dinner with my family almost every night.

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