“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” — Warren Buffett
For the months leading up to the birth of my first child I was a mess. I was convinced I would not have any time for myself, and all of my goals and dreams would have to be temporarily pitched. As a result, I ran around trying to knock out as many bucket lists items as possible, successfully accomplishing none of them.
Fast forward three years and how I responded during the months leading up to the birth of our second child could not have been more different.
I was calm. I was present. I was composed.
I am convinced the main reason for this switch was because I followed the lead of Warren Buffet above, and reserved time each day to “Sit and Think.”
As someone who was trying to figure out ways to create time, this may sound counter-productive. However, from my experience it has had the exact opposite affect.
By taking the time to better understand my values and who I was, my vision of the person I wanted to become became clearer. As a result, over time my confidence to take the necessary steps to reach this dream version of myself became stronger.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu
Warren Buffett is not alone in prioritising this practice. Einstein, Newton, Jung, Rowling, Lennon, Dalio — besides being recognisable by only their last name, all accredited their ability to move with purpose to the fact they embraced the action of not moving at all.
Numerous studies have shown that reserving quiet time not only improves clarity, it can also help open ourselves up to things we may have missed, and according to Diane Greene, senior vice president and a board member at Google, “Increases the likelihood of asking the right questions.”
Growth not only comes from putting into action what you have already learned. It also comes from taking the time to ask yourself what you have not learned yet.
Most relevant to you as a “creator” embracing the habit of reserving time to “sit and think” can strengthen your creative muscle.
According to Hal Gregersen in his piece at HBR, “Cultivating silence increases your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.”
Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz picked up on the quote above when saying, “When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda — what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next — it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.”
Prior to embracing this practice, like a lot of people, I was so busy, I was not productive. I considered myself a creative, but I lacked the patience and understanding of what I wanted to create.
However, by reserving time to think each day and prioritizing my own personal development, my professional opportunities soared.
Within a matter of months I began to write, and in little time, this byproduct of sitting and thinking led to being featured in mainstream business, tech and wellness publications, something I previously hadn’t even had the courage to dream about.
This newly discovered creative outlet lead to introductions to people I previously admired only from afar, and with each handshake, one by one, my dream career dominos began to fall.
I do not say this to brag. I say this simply to show you that change is possible.
However, it would have been impossible if I had not taken the time to sit and think about what I wanted and needed to focus on in the first place.
Mr. Internet loves to tell us to be different. I challenge you this week to follow this advice. While everyone else is running around looking busy, “Sit and think,” and let the silence reveal to you where and how to be productive.
“Everybody seems to think I’m lazy — I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy. Running everywhere at such a speed — Till they find there’s no need.” — John Lennon