If you’re in management or an office job, and feel that sleep is not that important, you’re not alone. If you do think sleep is important, but just don’t get enough, you’re absolutely not alone. A lot of people in this world feel the same. I used to think lack of sleep was a cool thing, a war wound, a chip on my shoulder. But I learned the importance of sleep and rest after seeing the difference it made in my performance.
I was a supervisor of a call center that handled phone calls with grieving families. There were intense calls and important decisions to be made every day. We operated at all hours of the day. It was hard to get a full night of sleep, let alone a full recharge of my batteries. Most of my years working there were in sleep deprivation.
There was a point where I started to pay attention to my rest. I wanted to recover from chronic exhaustion and tiredness. So I started looking into ways to get more sleep, and to rest my mind when I wasn’t in the office. I found that when I was able to get a full night of rest, I had high executive function. My decision making power was greater, and decision fatigue was offset. I think the biggest reason for this was that I was more able to prioritize.
With a full night of sleep, I was better able to manage my time and tell people “no” or reschedule things. I had more mind energy to deal with the stress of saying “no”, and more foresight as to the importance of doing so. Because I was able to see the full picture, I knew that it was of the utmost importance that I handle the task that mattered most. With insufficient rest, I had trouble dealing with persistent requests from people bringing up non-urgent issues.
When I prioritized well I was able to keep myself from doing spur of the moment biddings from others. Less distractions meant more focus on the important things. This fed a positive feedback loop. I felt better because I was doing things that mattered, and doing things that mattered made my day easier to navigate, and this made me feel even better.
I also felt more positive when I had a full night of sleep. A positive approach helped me say “no” to people in a generous, gentle way. I didn’t have to offend anyone through rejection, and I didn’t have to feel bad about it. I had the energy and mindset to be kind to people, even when they had the most urgent or emotionally charged problems thrown in my face. It was simply a matter of letting them know I would get back to them shortly. And I did.
I was doing the most important, and often the hardest, things, feeling great about it, about getting it done, about the rest of the day getting easier because of that. Prioritizing and keeping on task really does snowball into amazing days, and sleeping a full night increased my chances of doing this. And this really allowed me to treat others with more attention and respect, because I was taking care of myself and my work.
When fully rested, I trust myself more. I have a more positive view of myself, my abilities, and I dive into difficult tasks or situations because I know they are important and I know I can handle them. If I’m tired, this becomes much harder. My self confidence goes down, naturally, because I’m not sure if I have the energy to handle tough situations. How can I when I myself don’t feel taken care of? I think it’s just natural.
Strong trust in myself means I stick to my instincts, follow my gut, and let my intuition lead. In turn, doing this makes me feel better about myself. I’ve gone a certain route based on my own feeling, and found good results. I reinforce the idea that I’m trustworthy and capable.
Lastly, with plenty of sleep, time seems more abundant. I just feel more relaxed, even with deadlines or the end of the day approaching, or in really critical circumstances, because I feel more capable of using my time. I just know that I can handle whatever comes, and things don’t seem overwhelming.
For some good reference on the importance of sleep, check out Arianna Huffington. I heard about her book on sleep through the GaryVee show. She has recently been encouraging the world to sleep. In particular, she urges people in top positions of leadership to get their shut eye to help them make better decisions. She sleeps eight hours a day. Even her employees sleep well. And they’re kicking ass.
There are a few effective options.
You could shut down the idea. You could explain how there aren’t resources available for this idea. You could let her know that you don’t have time for her idea.You could explain why this idea is bad.
Or worse yet, you could pretend to listen, and give a well-crafted response that effectively steers her away from her idea. Brainwash her into mediocrity.
But you don’t. You lead.
You take this wonderful distraction from your mindless tasks and make yourself present. Take a deep breath, or three as the idea is being explained. You figure it out. You ask your employee to detail the parts that don’t make sense to you. You present obstacles from your perspective. You present your fears of what would happen if that idea were to materialize. The change it would bring. You bring yourself into the conversation.
You lead this brave person down the winding, twisted road of maturing the idea. Letting it take root and grow in her mind, and in your mind. Letting it blossom into a vision. A plan.
This may not conclude with the first talk. But you don’t stop until you have led her through the cultivation of a strong sapling of the idea, and it is agreed that both of you are climbing the same tree.
And now that the idea has taken root, and grown out of your own mind, you have little trouble bringing the seeds to your manager. And finding a bit of the same courage that your report brought to you. Because she did the hard part of initiating the conversation. You only have to explain, with earnest effort, how this could change the organization. Or the process. Or the dynamics. To make things much better.
Management is the art of getting the job done with limited resources. Or maintaining the idea that resources are limited to just what they are limited to.
Managing in a factory is inevitable. There are many cogs, and when one starts to squeak, you give it oil, and make sure the job somehow gets done. You tamper ambition and energy that strays from the set product or method. You make sure that things run smoothly.
But people have ideas. They have inspiration. They have dreams. And it’s hard to pretend to be a cog in the machine. Even when their children’s livelihood depends on it. Even when their rent is on the line. Yes, it is on the line.
Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Or the next day. But eventually, in the plain view of the Universe, seemingly joint, but truthfully separate, paths diverge.
So, in the midst of managing, be sure to lead. Become fluent in the language of new, the tongues that can change, the ideas that can infect and make things uncomfortable and different. Because you have the ability to translate that into the language of old. Of manufacturing.
Our world is growing. We have long surpassed the age of factories described by Marx, and entered the world of free thinking and knowledge embodiment encouraged by the same thinker.
If you speak only the language of management, you will be left behind in a pile of cogs. All others will follow leaders into the growth of ideas, constant change, and fearless exploration. People want to be well, not just fed. Including you.
You can hide, you can quiet the thinkers, and then you can pretend to have been a believer all along as change begins to obliterate the walls around you. Or you can be true to yourself now and allow yourself to resonate with truth from others. And hold the hammer in your hand that obliterates rotting walls.
So lead the holders of seeds to fertile soil and give them water.
To powerful living,