Out of time? Try unfocused focus

‘I have no time to think’. As Peter Bregman writes, these are possibly the six scariest words uttered by a leader. For harried executives, time is like gold, uber-valuable.  Globalisation, with its 24-hour web of conference calls, long-haul flights and matrix reporting lines, exacerbates the pressure. “It’s not that we’re unproductive,” Bregman says. “We’re astoundingly productive. We produce deliverables. We make decisions. We create and spend budgets. We direct our teams. We write proposals.” But in this manic productivity, he adds, something critical gets lost: learning. As the Greek Stoic Epictetus reputedly said, ‘No great thing is created suddenly’. In this busyness, reflection, contemplation and thoughtful evaluation are sacrificed. “These things take time,” Bregman says, “they require us to slow down.” Leaders should think about where they do their best thinking – and make it a habit to go there daily. Thinking time might be a “luxury”, he adds, but it’s an essential luxury.

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