Time to Think

I like travelling by train… I only wish I could afford to do more of it.

The other week I needed to travel from Edinburgh to London.  A simple enough trip: SleazyJet from Edinburgh to Gatwick and then the train into town.

But wait a minute… I’m well in advance so why don’t I go by train?  So, the trip by ‘plane was going to cost me about £49 when I added on things like an ‘admin’ fee so I could use my credit card.  Great, I must be able to get a deal by train.  Well, you’d think so wouldn’t you?  The cheapest ticket I could get was £109!  I could pay for the Gatwick Express and still be £30 up by using air travel.

Anyway, that’s just an aside – I still like travelling by train and the trip from Dublin to Portlaoise is especially nice this morning; the train is pretty empty, the sun is poking out from between the clouds and there’s a wide spread frost on the fields.

I have an hour’s trip and it’s really given me time to think, which has been a pretty rare commodity for the past few weeks.  I’m not thinking about anything in particular, just letting my mind circulate and it’s been great.

Thinking, as an essential part of anyone’s job, in my experience, has been fairly underrated in the past.

Like the time I was working at Virgin.  I was writing a management course and I was trying to come up with a new exercise to illustrate a particular point.  Now coming up with exercises that are new and different is an intellectual exercise; in other words, it takes some thinking about.  And that was exactly what I was doing.  Thinking, that is.

Specifically, I was sitting at my desk, leaning back on my chair, perhaps with a preoccupied expression on my face, when my boss walked passed.

‘Not busy, Richard?’  Was her very pointed comment.

Well, yes, actually, I’m very busy… busy thinking so I can produce a quality piece of work.

That was what went through my mind.  What I actually did was sit up straight and pretend to bash away at my PC to demonstrate I was ‘doing’ something.

Pathetic, wasn’t it?

My point is, though, if we have time to think (or we give our staff time to think) we might just unlock an untapped pool of potential: a new way of doing things, working smarter, a different structure.

Of course, the issue is how to make sure your people are thinking about the right things and I would suggest that’s down to how they are managed.

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