Resting is the new Cocaine.

resting guy

It struck me a few days ago. I felt so good. There was a happy buoyancy inside me. No matter
where I turned my eye I had this positive lift inside my skull, my skin, my everything. What was
going on? It felt indeed like having a buzz on from a couple of pints or maybe even some other
form of chemical assistance. But the fact was that after weeks of hard work and one week of play I
had actually done nothing at all for over a week now. I had eaten well, slept well, even exercised
almost every day, had snuck in a meditation twice and now it felt like I was on drugs!

I noticed three things that made it feel that way:

  • I felt enveloped in a general state of wellbeing. Simply feeling good, like how leaning back in a very
    comfortable luxury chair can feel good. There was an absence of absence. I lacked nothing. I was
    not craving for x, y or z that once attained would make me feel better. All was well, exactly as is. And even if it changed it would be alright.
  • I was infatuated with my fellow creatures on earth. I loved my grass, my appletree, my neighbours,
    even the kids yelling in the background. They were all worthy inhabitants of the same universe I
    was in that day and I was willing, even eager, to connect with them and share the bliss of existence.
  • I had self-confidence. Perhaps self-efficacy is an even better word. A belief that if I undertook
    something it would be a success. A belief that I could make a difference. A belief that my extended
    will would lead to things well done.

So where did it come from? Let’s start by looking at what state it replaced. When you are in the business of running workshops as I am, three or four full day sessions a week is actually a bit much. Add to that a bit of intercontinental air travel and you quickly get used to a feeling of not-being-rested. Do that for a number of weeks in a row while you still want to partake of life a bit in the weekends and you start to know yourself as someone who will catch-up up on rest later. The bravado of slogans like there will be time enough to sleep when you are dead, combined with still functioning reasonably well (albeit not at peak level) and of course not liking to say no to clients make you plod on and think of that as business as usual. Because we humans can get used to anything.

And the beauty of it all is that one of the workshops I was running in that period was for the Energy Project where we discuss the fallacy of accepting this fatigue paradigm and instead emphasise that our work culture needs to rediscover the value of renewal, in short of making sure you are rested in order to perform at your optimum. And here O’ irony, I had finally discovered the truth in that message. That there is a rested state that is so valuable and powerful that it would be silly to operate too long from any other state. How true is the stuff I teach I thought, now only to live by it.

So renewal is the new drug. Getting yourself up on a high. Your highest performance state. We need to get better at this drug. Make it acceptable, create good supply lines, exchange different ways of using it, push each other to better ways of partaking of it. Now it is a drug with side-effects. Inverse to the other kind of drugs, renewal has as side-effects improved performance, improved problem solving, improved relationships, improved creativity. The key is to stop being a binge user. Stop waiting for weeks and just plodding along before taking a vacation and binging on the drug. No, instead, make the drug a part of your every day, your working routine even. Let’s get used to being high every day. Let’s get used to being our best every day. Let’s make our (working) cultures legitimise this drug. Let us not inadvertently reward the plodders with admiration for plodding on hour after hour, week after week, running themselves and the quality of their work into the ground. Let us not frown when someone goes for a long walk, or meditates, turbo-naps or does yoga at work. It is the drug we need more of. Let’s not settle for less ever again.

The warning signs on the packages of the new drug of course should be, you’ll feel better about yourself, about others and about what you can achieve.

What is creative leadership

Creative leadership means more than just pushing innovation and being on the look out for new ideas and having sufficient of a start-up mentality to get things done. At the core the change has to do with what we know. Our old models of leadership were based on the idea that there is a right answer. Bring in an expert, do the market research, spend x amount on advertising and you will create y demand. That kind of thinking. The belief that there is a right answer out there and we just have to ask the right questions to the right people to get it and then we can base our strategies on that. Creative leadership means letting go of the idea that there is a right answer out there that you can know in advance, it means understanding at the core that things are moving differently now, not that there is a new right answer to learn, but that there is no right answer any more. We don’t know what is going to work. How do you operate in those conditions? How do you organize people in these conditions? How do you organize assets in those conditions? That is what Creative Leadership is about.

The rewards of a story

Last week I was moderating an event for the economic board of Amsterdam. About 300 people had come to hear three star creative entrepreneurs of Amsterdam, Ben van Berkel, Renny Ramakers and Duncan Stutterheim. As a moderator I did something that intriguingly enough led to quite a bit of discussion afterwards at the bar. The main question seemed to be, why did it work? I now think I have the answer and it is a story. But let me first explain what happened…

Continue reading The rewards of a story

The secret is Self-orientation

Yesterday in a workshop on communications skills an introverted/people oriented person practiced trying to pitch a good idea to an extraverted/task-oriented person. The first couple of times he started with lots of lead-in words such as “How are you doing? For some time now I have been wanting to speak to you about something but haven’t had the chance…” etc. As I was playing the extraverted/task-oriented CEO I could acutely feel that the lead-in words were not spoken for my benefit. In fact I could even feel myself in that role being impatient and wanting the person to get to the point, it felt a little like wading through someone’s words to get to dry land.
When I made him do it a third time he nailed it. “I have a great idea…” were his opening words, his eyes sparkled. He was amazed himself at how much stronger he felt and he certainly looked tougher.
Continue reading The secret is Self-orientation