When something clicks, you just know it. It feels right. I like to call these ‘Aha!’ moments. When I coach leaders, I’m always looking for that moment when an idea or concept clicks with them. When I see that they just realized something new, or discovered something important – about themselves or their organization. Those Aha! moments are when real change can start happening.
Those Aha realizations go on to change behavior and then become habits. Significant change happens when leaders try a new approach to a situation that they wouldn’t have done before and have success doing so. Once that starts to occur, momentum can create a virtuous cycle of change.
Sometimes, these moments just happen. Most times, though, these breakthroughs come when leaders approach the problem from a new perspective or consider new factors: we notice connections we hadn’t noticed before. That’s what makes these moments so powerful for individuals and organizations – they’re not obvious.
As leaders, we can help our teams spark new ideas and arrive at new realizations if we create space for open and collaborative conversation. Challenge your team to simplify the problem. Sometimes, employees can overcomplicate the task at hand which makes the solution harder for them to find. Or, ask them to visualize. Writing down thoughts or mapping how ideas are related can help employees connect the dots they otherwise would not have seen.
When trying to solve a problem or find a connection, it’s also common for breakthroughs to come after a brainstorming conversation, when your employee has taken time to digest, process, and iterate on their ideas. If you can give it time, they may just have an epiphany while driving, working out, or taking a shower.
Regardless of when these moments occur, leaders can generate more Aha! moments by helping their teams see the problem at hand from different perspectives. A moment of clarity, a brand-new idea, or a sudden realization can drive growth and transformation.
Don’t Spoil Your Vacation Getting Ready for Vacation:
Like millions of people, I am preparing for time off around the holidays. But if you’re like me, the week before vacation entails late nights and early mornings working through your seemingly endless to-do list. Not only is your plate full with your normal workload, you may also be trying to get ahead to make your eventual return less painful.
I’ve written a lot about this over the years, and while I’d never go to market as a leadership vacation expert (it doesn’t seem to pay), I see the effects in every client engagement I’ve had.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the hurdles between you and your vacation, take a few moments to step back. Evaluate the urgency you feel around projects and deadlines – you may find that urgency isn’t necessary, and the consequences for moving deadlines are actually really low. Trust in your leadership and the ability of your team to carry on without you – even if something goes wrong, the world will keep spinning while you are off the clock. Decide if you’re going to allow yourself to check emails while you’re away – some find this actually makes leaving for vacation and returning to work much easier.
Taking time off is all about recharging so you can be your best self when you return to the office. So, if you find yourself stressed out getting ready for vacation, remember: the first step to maximizing your time off is ensuring you have the energy to enjoy it. Exhausting yourself the week before your vacation means you’ll spend your time off recovering instead of recharging.
If you’d like to read more specifics about this, my HBR articles on the topic are here:
And an interview including my ideas here:
In the weeks since Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos, passed away, he has been remembered as many things: brilliant, quiet, inspirational, innovative. This article remembers him as an entrepreneur we all could learn from: he built business around human happiness, and believed that “living a life of passion and purpose and ensuring that you also define and follow core values for your business” were the keys to a fulfilled life. Enjoy.