From Overwhelm to Inspiration: Balancing Work and Creativity for CEOs: Part 1 – Mark MacLeod

June 6, 2023 - Mark MacLeod

From Overwhelm to Inspiration: Balancing Work and Creativity for CEOs: Part 1

Do you wish you were more creative? That new ideas and inspiration flowed more freely?

Perhaps they did back in the early days of your company and now that spark is gone?

What happened?

My guess is that the answer lies in your schedule and habits. Does your schedule support accessing a creative, flowing state? I am guessing not.

In the beginning there is nothing but possibility. It’s just you, your co-founders or super early team members, and a white board. But once we get into scaling and we add people, we add complexity, demands on our time, meetings, etc, etc. We lose our freedom.

Some of this happens to us (by accepting meetings as an example). Most of this we do to ourselves (by creating meetings, but mostly by thinking that the solution to keeping up with scale is to work harder and longer).

I will periodically review the calendars of CEOs. Here’s what I typically see: back to back, sometimes overlapping meetings. Zoom after zoom after zoom. Working through lunch. No scheduled time for deep thinking, so that happens AFTER all your meetings and AFTER you respond to your emails, DMs, slack messages, voice mails, etc.

Humans are simply not wired to function in this way. We are not machines or computers. No matter how much caffeine you USE, you can’t keep going all the time.

Unlock your brain…

You have likely had an ‘aha’ moment in the shower or when you were hiking or walking a dog. This happened because you created SPACE. You allowed your whole brain (conscious and subconscious) to work on something. And since we can’t see or feel the subconscious brain at work, we just get these ahas, these INSPIRATIONS.

Let’s look at that word: inspiration! What does that mean: IN SPIRIT. At the risk of getting all woo woo on you, it is only by connecting to spirit, to our deeper nature, that we tap into this subconscious power.

Our rational brains represent a small fraction of our actual mental capacity. It has been my personal experience that when I “work less” and connect to my breath and to nature more, when I allow my brain to reset, I come back to work with way more clarity, insight and certainty. The answers just come.

As a leader, especially CEO, your job is largely about making decisions, small and large, day after day. It should not be about DOING. If it is, then you are operating at the wrong altitude. Don’t you agree that your decision-making would be greatly enhanced by explicitly working on your mental clarity and making sure your brain was crisp and fresh?

It is hard to be creative when you are stressed. A big part of unlocking creativity is removing stress, removing busywork and creating space. But…

Let’s stop there for today. Just sit with this and think about it. Later this week I will offer up the practices, habits and tools that I use to ensure that I am using my whole brain in a sustainable way to achieve professional excellence.

Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

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