Research now confirms what we instinctively feel. To be most effective, we need to maximize energy, creativity, productivity…..not the amount of time we spend at work. 90 minute increments of work with breaks in between. Full nights of sleep. Naps. Mid day runs. Lunches which build relationships. These all boost our performance according to Tony Schwartz and the research he summarized in yesterday’s New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/opinion/sunday/relax-youll-be-more-productive.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
What does this have to do with the “currency of empathy”? It’s vital to being whole, the third part of the framework suggested in this blog (1. vision, 2. growth, 3. being whole – as summarized in the “Organizational Empathy and Innnovation” page). For empathy and trust to flow in organizations, we need to be in a good place ourselves. Organizational cultures can work with or against this need.
What does this have to do with leadership and parenting, perhaps women in particular? My kids taught me the value of a break. I would never have learned it without them. It’s easy to see the benefits of a good nap on a baby or toddler. As my kids grew, I came to realize the value of breaks for myself as well. If you are a very focused person, working for hours at a time is no problem. The struggle comes in pausing work to make breakfast, leave a meeting to greet the bus, reschedule clients to take care of a sick kid, etc. Time management is a daily challenge, but in many ways managing the emotions of these transitions can require the most effort.
What I have come to realize though, is that getting back to work after some distance makes problems seem solvable and creativity easier to access. I wasn’t in tune enough to take these breaks before kids. Were you? It’s just one more way that parenting teaches us to lean into humanity and empathy, and then we can practice it with great results in innovative organizations. It’s great to see research catching up our minds with what our bodies (and babies) already knew.