One of my personal passions is neuroscience–more
specifically, translating some of the most important neuroscientific findings
into leadership and workplace insights. One recent finding, summarized in David Rock’s book, Your
Brain at Work, is that our conscious-thinking brain resources–located in the
prefrontal region–are less plentiful than we might think. From a brain perspective, we are at our
best for only a small part of each day.
As such, we need to use our brains wisely, and not waste processing
power on low-order activities like answering e-mail or surfing the Internet.
We’ve all had the experience of trying
desperately to come up with an idea without success and then zap!, a superb
idea arises 7 hours later, while we’re in the shower!
People who seem to have richer, more powerful
insights at work (and at home) don’t merely think harder than the rest of us.
Instead, they learn to switch off
their thinking on command. In his
book Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks suggests that major insights are gleaned by quieting
the mind, something akin to allowing your brain’s engine to idle. Idling, in turn, inspires various
parts of our brains to communicate and synthesize higher order responses or
“answers” to our problems.
So the next time your boss wants to know why
you stepped out of the office or were caught daydreaming, just point him or her
to this post, and give yourself permission to just drift away…