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I don’t know about you, but I can find myself meaninglessly flickering through social media channels at all hours of the night, responding to emails I know should wait until tomorrow and fixating on discussions I’ve had throughout the day. With all of this information in my head, am I truly allowing myself the ‘me-time’ that I so actively promote amongst my own team? To enable the change we wish to see in the world, we must be rested and considerate of our own wellbeing.
Only recently have I stopped to take a step back and reflect on what that means for me as a leader. There are times when emails are urgent and must be responded to at unfriendly hours, but there are also times when I must allow myself to rest in true and sustained periods of silence.
It’s a strange dichotomy – and I have taken steps to truly practice what I preach. Silence means a lot of things to different people. I myself have struggled with the concept of ‘silence’. I spend so much of my time travelling across the country on trains and driving endless hours on the motorway. How can I enjoy silence with all of the noise around me? For me, reframing how I think about silence has been so important in elevating my creativity. I’m incredibly social by nature, so I always found the concept of silence to be a bit lonely. However, I now see the value in solitude and the ways in which it can support me in achieving what’s important to me. It’s not about sitting alone in a noise-proof room – it’s actually about learning the skill of listening to your own needs and not allowing the noise into your mind.
I have started to pepper my meetings with ‘reflection time’ breaks – our team have fed back that this protected thinking time has been invaluable in allowing them to explore their thinking in new ways. We all have a limit, and work done once we’ve hit this limit isn’t always to the highest standard.
For me, silence is also about switching off from the technology that can also keep me so connected. There is so much talk of reducing screen-time for children, so why do we not prioritise our own development in the same way?
It’s so important to remember that your headspace is exactly that – it’s yours. There are times for absorbing information, times for reflection and times for joining in on conversations, but it cannot be to the detriment of your own clarity of thoughts and feelings.
To make better happen, we must let better into our minds. During sustained silence, we allow ourselves the opportunity to discover novel solutions that would have otherwise been batted away by countless other ideas that have been sitting within our minds for weeks.
Ideas, world-changing concepts and innovation can come from the most surprising places, and silence is absolutely an enabler of creative thinking.