I know a top-performer who recently didn’t check her email for 7 weeks. In fact, she didn’t even talk to a member of her team for that entire time. There was an auto response on her email with directions to contact other staff members during her absence.
And her boss was all for it.
She is an executive for an international association with more than a decade of successful performance. Her work is very fulfilling, and she loves her job. However, she was feeling burned out and her boss knew her well enough to know that she needed some time away from her demanding routine. She needed a sabbatical to help her get back on track.
We have all experienced driving a route that we have driven too many times and then hardly remembering anything about the trip. Mindless autopilot is not just dangerous in our vehicles, it can be dangerous in our careers.
When I need inspiration, I need to have a change of scenery. Whether I’m writing an article, drafting new speech content, or developing new business strategies, often I find that the best way to find creative solutions beyond the typical autopilot is to get outside.
I find that twirling ideas in my head in a different environment is highly a useful and productive diversion. But it could easily be working on a Sudoku, playing the piano, going for a run or bike ride, or listening to some inspiring music that could make the difference.
Several years ago, I needed to develop a new speech. My old content wasn’t fitting the bill—I wasn’t connecting with the audience and my stories and illustrations were outdated. I felt stuck in a rut. My starting point for developing a new theme was spending an entire day in the mountains with no access to any technology where I thought deeply about the needs of my audience and my career accomplishments. What followed from that introspective time and deep thinking was a presentation about helping a luxury resort become a Five Diamond hotel. To date, showing organizations how to create high end service systems and outcomes has been one of my most effective presentations in my career.
While not all of us could take a 7-week break from our jobs all of us could practice stepping away from our regular routines to find creative solutions to workplace problems. That may be all you need to get unstuck.