During a VIP dinner at our last Sales Leadership Conference in Chicago, I asked senior sales leaders what they have done to reward themselves and find relief from the stress caused by tough economic challenges. One executive revealed that he has treated himself to classical guitar lessons. As a child he dreamed of learning the instrument but never found the time to act on his dream. His journey into the world of artistic expression has opened his mind to a state of bliss that he is able to apply to his business, which enhances his performance. He explained how the serenity of music helps him stay calmer during days filled with chaos.
While some reluctantly admitted that stress has eroded their personal productivity, others carve out time to play and spend more time with family. One VP of sales rewards himself by going to the gym more often while traveling. He said, “It gives me the energy I need to drive business forward. In a sluggish economy, I can’t afford a sluggish body.”
One of the most interesting ideas for rewarding oneself came from a sales executive who decided to spend more time daydreaming. He realized that we live in a culture obsessed with efficiency, where we fill every waking moment with work. He cited a recent article that explained how daydreaming can lead to epiphanies, valuable insights, and creative problem solving. I did some research and discovered that daydreams can turn into a powerful achievement tool. While daydreaming is not recommended while we’re engaged in conversation, for example, it pays to let the conscious mind shift into neutral. Many scientists argue that daydreaming has a purpose; it is a productive, cognitive event that plays a critical role in creativity.
Albert Einstein found that when he allowed himself to disengage from the confines of disciplined study, his thoughts became unbounded, which helped him refine the Theory of Relativity. Such successful actors as Harvey Keitel and Meg Ryan have incorporated dream work into their careers, which allows them to perform with greater authenticity.
Meg Ryan once said that inspiration doesn’t always come from the outside; it can come from going inside our minds. The French filmmaker Louis Malle once described how he engaged in a series of daydreams that led him to create a script for a new movie. Such creative business leaders as Sir Richard Branson daydream in order to leapfrog their daily preoccupations and create mental bridges to new possibilities.
It appears that daydreaming is a great way of rewarding ourselves with a break from the rational world. It allows our brain to explore its inner landscape and return with new insights that can lead us to greater success. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow suggested, “Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.”
More on that subject: Secrets of Entrepreneurs: The Power of Silence. A nine-minute course on how successful business leaders use the power of silence to get ahead in business.
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