The days are getting longer and warmer, and graduations are happening everywhere. It’s almost summer, and I’m feeling the pull to slow down and let my mind unwind. I’ve been reading less-than-edifying “literature” lately — books from the cotton candy aisle at the library. I’m sure I should be reading some cutting-edge paper about leadership, or the newest strategies for social innovation, but my eyes insist on reaching for post-apocalyptic science-fiction romantic space-operas.
Every once in awhile I get a little embarrassed, and hope that no one who considers me to be wise sees what I’m reading. And then I realize that after many months of strong work, I need to step out for a moment and unhinge my mind. Reading, for me, is a surefire way of giving my mighty frontal lobes a rest.
Some folks eat doughnuts, watch baseball, or dabble in herbs. Others watch “reality” TV, dance wildly at the clubs or get lost in YouTubelandia. What’s true is that we as humans need to take breaks from our everyday lives. It’s important that we occasionally step away from responsibility and simply play.
When I was young we called it summer vacation. Even those of us who went to summer school knew that basically June, July and August were intended to be months of respite from teachers and textbooks and tests. These were months for play and time away from routine.
As adults we rarely get opportunities for three months of respite. However, our need for play and escape still remains. Sometimes the best thing we can do as leaders is to snooze in the sun for a day, or binge on Scandal, or paint our toenails multiple colors.
Our leadership is well served by allowing our minds to wander and fool around now and again. Think of it as vitamin “play” — the gains might not be immediate, but over time and in the right “dosage” our health is improved. I believe that spending a bit of mindful time in Covey’s Quadrant of Waste might be just what our leadership needs now and again.
How might you play a little? What is your equivalent of a trashy novel? I encourage you to find time this summer to unwind, take a breath and do something that gives you some (perhaps guilty) pleasure. If you see me behind that novel with the lurid cover — come on over. I’ll lend it to you when I’m done.
From my heart to yours.