Last month I gave a speech on crisis communications at the AMMJE conference in Cozumel, Mexico. I talked about the “crisis” that Cozumel, and Mexico as a whole, was having with the tourism industry being way down. Media reports of swine flu and drug cartels in other areas of Mexico have affected Cozumel severely, as well. One of my suggestions was to take the time to develop scenarios of what might happen in the future, and develop their responses. Rather than operating in a “crisis” mode, be proactive.
I also talked about being innovative and looking at new strategies besides the cruise ship tourists. Who else can they communicate to?
At dinner that night, a business owner’s son asked, “My mom is busy every minute of the day. How can she take time to plan? I am helping her this summer, and I don’t even have time to think about these things.”
Patty DeDominic, a Strategic Business Coach in Southern California, says you have to step out of the office to do such work. “Outside workshops and retreats are becoming more and more popular. You must step back and work ON the business not just IN the business. When you go offsite to do planning you get the big picture and can capitalize on the energy in the room. By getting away from your daily tasks, you can see things in a different light and get a more accurate reality of your strengths and weaknesses, rather than just a one-sided perception that the office is giving you that particular day.”
Karen Duncum, owner of a coaching and training firm in Santa Barbara, recently wrote a column for The Huffington Post on “Put Your Feet Up and Innovate.” She said leaders arrive at big-picture solutions by pulling the plug on their usual routines and doing nothing. “Most of the time executives find themselves bombarded with reports, e-mails, telephone calls, fire-fighting, and meetings. The answer is to engage in what I call passive innovation. I routinely advise my clients to unplug by taking a drive to a park, the ocean, or into the country with only a blank pad of paper and pen. Think of it as a coffee break for your brain.”
Two of her tips in the article for “overachievers to clear their minds and open up pathways for breakthrough thinking” were:
Put on Your Thinking Cap: While you can't force inspiration, you can mentally prepare for a productive session of creative ideas. Setting aside time for the specific purpose of "doing nothing" can train your mind to be open to the process.
The bottom line: We all have an unconscious tendency to sell our mental abilities short by miring ourselves in unnecessarily restrictive, shortsighted thinking patterns. Use mini-vacations for your mind to break free from the forces that keep your untapped creative powers in check. Don't be surprised if you discover your greatest productivity occurs when you're doing nothing at all.
Workshops, such as the upcoming BRANDit four-day workshop in Iceland where I will be speaking, offers just this kind of escape. Not only is it an opportunity to combine work with pleasure, but the striking setting of Iceland is the perfect back drop for the workshop. The inspiration of Icelandic nature is being incorporated into the workshop for the women while they are reinvigorating their own branding. There will be some scenic and remarkable side trips, including a stop at the world famous Blue Lagoon.
DeDominic added, “Sometimes it might take an international location to truly get people to turn off their cell phones and e-mail feeds during the planning sessions. It’s important to be in a quiet environment where you are not distracted and give yourself permission to think totally creatively.”
How long has it been since you’ve taken a few hours, or a few days, to explore how to re-invigorate your branding, your strategic plan and/or business operations? It might be time now to purposefully set aside time on your calendar and make the reservations to get away.