Have you heard that old expression: when you’re up to your arse in alligators it’s difficult to remember that you were hired to drain the swamp? Well, if it resonates you probably need to check your pulse because you could have already turned into a corporate zombie without even realizing it. Allow me to explain.
Have you ever watched any of those dreadful B-movies involving zombies swathed in rags and their flesh falling off their bodies limping wide-eyed and groaning towards their hapless victim? A gruesome vision, perhaps but a vivid reminder of what it’s like to work in today’s corporate world? Surely not!
Well I happen to think there is more than a passing similarity. They seem acceptant with their lot, they’re all behaving in the same way and, worse of all, they are entirely oblivious to anything except what is in front of them.
Think about it. Where do you get any thinking time these days? Years ago, before the advent of hand-held devices and email, travelling; holidays; lunchtimes and home time all belonged to you but now you are available 24/7 and, unbelievably, some people have become to expect this kind of access as the norm!
The upshot of this is no thinking time. Just like the zombies we have to concentrate on the next thing in front of us. Oblivious to all else we process that next email, take that incoming call, turn out for meetings (most of which are pointless) and stress about deadlines. Everything, it seems, is sucking our time, energy and head-space from us leaving no time to think and no time to question. Voila! We have become corporate zombies.
Well it doesn’t have to be this way.
In America there is a new concept that I would like to introduce to you called Corporate Stillness. The belief behind it is that the more senior you are in an organisation the more ”empty time” you need so that you can think, reflect and challenge the status quo – that’s how progress is made.
Apparently you can stay in a cliff-top room in the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur California where you pay extra ($2285 per night per room) for a room which does not have a TV, wifi or a mobile signal – only in America! But the reasoning is sound: you need time to think about the big idea, draining the swamp if you will.
Added to that Nicolas Carr performed a series of tests as research for his book (The Shallows) that found after spending quiet time often in rural surroundings, people “exhibited greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition”. In other words quiet time makes you smarter and sharper!
We all know we should be working on our business as well as in our business but if we don’t find the time it just won’t happen.
My point is this: ideas are the currency of greatness and they don’t come whilst you’re arse-deep in the corporate equivalent of snapping green monsters. Creativity and innovation need time so you simply must create some stillness in your lives otherwise you are just going to groan and limp your way through one corporate morass after another.
My advice is consider adopting the following: -
- When you go on holiday spend time before you go arranging things so you don’t have to check in every day. Give somebody access to your emails and get them to do it instead – don’t fall for the illusion of your own indispensability!
- Turn off all you mobile devices every second journey you make especially to and from work.
- Do not wear a watch or check your emails on Sundays.
So there we have it – avoid being a corporate zombie and achieve great things by showing a little back-bone; turning off your Crackberry and creating some stillness. It sure works for me.