Two truths for great leadership:
- You need creative, innovative solutions to the problems only you can solve.
- Your Muse doesn’t respond to demands coming from your stress and anxiety.
Nearly all management and operational problems have been solved. It will usually take significant effort, or finding the right people, but solutions exist. All the basics about running effective projects and meetings, managing cash flow and budgets, generating sales leads, inventory management, manufacturing logistics and optimization, statistical analysis to support A vs. B decisions, interviewing people, etc., are known. There are teachable skills, procedures to follow, abundant documentation about what works and what doesn’t.
Leadership problems, however, are different. There are suggested practices for developing vision, new product/service creation, engaging people, helping people make positive changes, gaining wisdom, and discerning the essential signal to follow. Though much has been written and shared, these practices and anecdotes are not formulas or procedures. Leadership requires creative, innovative solutions.
Creative and innovation solutions are not summoned on demand. It’s like the exhausted parent’s prayer, “Lord, I need patience with this kid and I need it RIGHT NOW!” Your Muse is unimpressed by the fervency of your plea and will not respond.
The Muse will only whisper solutions when you aren’t actively thinking about the problem. By experience you know that ideas surface while you’re in the shower, enjoying the music concert, reading a novel, taking a walk through inspiring landscapes, concentrating on your breathing as you meditate for 10 minutes, pushing for a personal best at the gym. These “Ah!” insights come unbidden in a completely different context than where you will apply them.
Therefore, you need two kinds of discipline in your regular routines:
- Management problems – get the information (or person) you need, buckle down, just do it.
- Leadership problems – make time and space regularly for reflection, enjoyable books and events, exercise, experiencing nature, etc.