I’ve been writing these Clarity Break Thoughts (aka passionate pleas) for about eight years now. They’re called Clarity Break Thoughts because the idea is to give you something to ponder during your next Clarity Break that will help you get more of what you want from your business.
Then it dawned on me: I’ve never done a deep dive into the power, psychology, and value of doing a Clarity Break. It’s a timeless discipline that all great leaders practice, and if you’re not doing them, you are truly not operating at your full potential and are at a disadvantage.
Keeping your head clear, your confidence high, and your focus strong is vital in growing your company. Most leaders spend most of their time overwhelmed, tired, and buried in the day-to-day routine, unable to see beyond tomorrow. As a result, you don’t solve problems as well as you could, you don’t lead your people as well as you could, and you’re not a good example for them. Successful leaders have a habit of taking quiet thinking time. That means escaping the office on a regular basis for an hour or so. By working on yourself and the business, you will rise above feeling frustrated and overwhelmed to a clearheaded and confident state. As a result, when you come back into the business, you will be laser-focused and in the right leadership frame of mind.
You can do this wherever works best for you, but it should never be in your office. You have to go to a place where your thoughts are uninterrupted. You can do this daily, weekly, or monthly, whichever works best for you. Everyone has his or her own formula; some clients have a favorite place in the morning on their way to work, some on their way home. Sam Cupp (my very successful business mentor) would do it for 30 minutes in his den every morning. I do it once a week for two hours in a coffee shop. One client takes about half a day every month at the library. Bill Gates takes two one-week “think weeks” every year.
Such free time to think is vital. As Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Take the opportunity to review your V/TO, review your plans, read, think strategically, or fill out the Organizational Checkup. What I recommend for someone who doesn’t know what to do is to sit with a blank legal pad and a pen. I promise you, through this simple exercise, all of the right thoughts will come to mind. It’s important that none of the work you’re doing is busywork. This is not an opportunity to play catch-up.
After taking a Clarity Break, you will come back into the business clear, confident, and focused. You’ll be ready for anything. You’ll solve problems better, you’ll be clearer with your people, and you’ll set a better example. When you’re having trouble solving a problem, check out for a Clarity Break. Take a deep breath, and put the necessary time into clearly thinking through the problem.
To get started, take out your calendar right now and pick a one-hour block of time next week, block it out, and do it. If you wait around for the time to appear, it never will. It must be an appointment that you pre-schedule with yourself every day, week, or month. Give it a try. Just do one. I have yet to have one person tell me that it was a waste of time. You might be wondering where you’re going to find an hour. The amazing paradox is that the hour you spend will save you more than that hour in the long run, due to increased productivity. You end up being much more efficient and effective. Even if you’re convinced you don’t have time, you must delegate an hour of your work to someone to free yourself up because a Clarity Break is your obligation as a leader in your organization.