The Upside of Downtime

January 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

With Jackie Coleman

One of Jackie’s first jobs after graduate school necessitated that she be on call 24/7. That schedule tested her ability to leave work at the office and fully engage with the rest of her life. Similarly, John spent time in consulting where the sometimes hectic travel and work schedules forced him to think hard about how to guard personal time — to “punch out” from work and create downtime to recharge and rejuvenate.

Many modern workers find it hard to take downtime. The idea of leaving work so cleanly at the office seems quaint in a world of smartphones, laptops, and global companies that are always on to accommodate employees from Hoboken to Hong Kong. But drawing brighter lines between work and time off — family, friends, outside activities, and old-fashioned daydreaming — has clear benefits for productivity, creativity, and wellness. There’s an upside to downtime.

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The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals

January 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Wallace Stevens was one of America’s greatest poets. The author of “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”and “The Idea of Order at Key West” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1955 and offered a prestigious faculty position at Harvard University. Stevens turned it down. He didn’t want to give up his position as Vice President of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company.

This lyrically inclined insurance executive was far from alone in occupying the intersect of business and poetry. Dana Gioia, a poet, Stanford Business School grad, and former General Foods executive, notes that T.S. Eliot spent a decade at Lloyd’s Bank of London; and many other poets including James DickeyA.R. Ammons, and Edmund Clarence Stedman navigated stints in business.

I’ve written in the past about how business leaders should be readers, but even those of us prone to read avidly often restrict ourselves to contemporary nonfiction or novels. By doing so, we overlook a genre that could be valuable to our personal and professional development: poetry. Here’s why we shouldn’t.

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