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In a recent strategy meeting with some of our favorite clients they got to do something they haven’t done in a long time. They stopped and took a breath! They created a 2012 mind map for their brand. With crayons. They had FUN. They took time to THINK. This was just one of their comments:

“I don’t remember the last time I just sat and thought about the business.”

Sound familiar? Yeah, I see your head nodding feverishly. It’s something, isn’t it?! You’re in a position to lead and develop people and instead you’re busy playing fire fighter every day. This is the ‘norm’, right?! It’s what you have to do to keep up. If you slowed down or STOPPED you’d never get everything done. Work would pile up. Fires would burn out of control. People would be let down. Consider this idea from leading author, speaker and coach, Steve Chandler.

“The best seminar I could ever really give would be to put the people in a room, give them a blank pad, have silence pumped in, and allow them to simply sit and jot ideas down about what they would like to create in future days, and how they might like to bring miracles about and why. That would be a wonderful, wonderful eight hours for them, unlike anything they had ever done in their lives ever before—a full day of silence. Just with their own thoughts, because so many inspired things bubble up. That’s why people say they get their best ideas on vacation, or they get their best ideas in the shower—it’s the only time they’re away from this frantic, addicted inner mental activity.”

I’ve personally been inspired by many of his books, but this year I had the distinct pleasure of spending an entire day with Steve. It was like the difference between reading about the Eiffel Tower and actually experiencing it in person. Steve talks alot about slowing down. STOPPING. THINKING. At first, it sounded crazy to me. I thought, stopping and thinking…how’s that going to help me get more done? Reach customers? Be more successful? Absurd, right?!

It actually works. Let’s get started.

1. CHOOSE A TIME —Yes, actually schedule time to think. You put everything else in your calendar—workouts, meetings, reviews, sales calls. So, schedule some time to THINK. The key is to start small. Carve a 15 minute window into your day. The ticket is to create the space. “If you build it they will come.” When you create the space and honor it by “showing up”, the ideas come.

2. PICK A SPOT —I have found that you have to plan ahead. Decide in advance where this sacred space will take place. Mine has happened everywhere from the center of my garage floor (not kidding), to the back yard, the beach or a local Starbucks. Consistency is good, but some people thrive on variety, so you experiment and decide what works for you.

3. SHOW UP —If you schedule a meeting with yourself, make sure you honor it and show up. Don’t brush it off because something else comes up. Treat it as a true sacred space. A premium chunk of YOU time. You deserve it. You need it. You’ll be better for it.

4. SHUT UP —This may be new for some of you, but I recommend you start with silence. No headphones. No iphone. No pals. Just you and your thoughts. You may be surprised what’s brewing up in that intelligent noggin of yours. Don’t be worried if nothing profound comes to you the first time. Or the thirty-first time. The point is just to be. To think. To stop.

It’s not essential, but having a journal handy or your favorite notebook and a pen at the ready isn’t a bad idea. I liken it to those nights you can’t sleep and churn up some amazing ideas, but forget to write them down. Then morning comes and you can’t remember one of those brilliant epiphanies.

I’ve accomplished more in the last year by slowing down then I ever thought possible. Giving myself permission and the space to stop and think. It’s a crazy notion, but one that yields amazing results. So, I dare you to stop! Try it for one week and let me know how it goes. (get all crazy and use some crayons)

Have fun!

“Success is a process of diverting one’s scattered forces into one powerful channel.” -James Allen

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