Why I Get My Best Ideas In The Shower, aka, Why Rest Is Vital For Our Leadership
By Leah Palestrant, 2022-23 J Leaders Academy Fellow
As part of our J Leaders Academy Retreat pre-work, we read Changing the World from the Inside Out by Rabbi David Jaffe. In his chapter on Shabbat, we reflected on the importance of a time to set aside commitments and find rest, which can oftentimes propel us forward in our work with a sense of renewal, heightened creativity, and greater appreciation and awareness. In our first virtual J Leaders session with Josh Feldman, CEO of R&R: The Rest of our Lives, we explored practical tools that would allow us to do just that.
“What is more important to you? Work or rest?” Seems like a simple enough question, but we quickly discovered that individual J Leaders have very different opinions when it comes to how these priorities currently show up in our lives. For me, I have always been someone that is energized by having a full calendar with not a free evening in sight. However, with a recent 8-month-old addition to my family, this session allowed me to explore the differences in how I would like to be prioritizing and spending my time during any given week vs. how I’m actually spending my time.
By exploring helpful models such Time Matrix, Big Rocks prioritization from Steven Covey, and various micro habits from Josh, I left the session with a renewed sense of how to prioritize my time day-to-day to allow for more time for rest. For me, if I’m stuck on a project or an interpersonal dilemma, I somehow seem to come up with the best solutions when I’m in the shower. I learned that there is a psychological reason for this – it’s because it is one of the very few times of my day where I am allowing my brain to be completely idle. This idleness actually increases knowledge and retention. For some in our cohort, realizing that procrastination was actually a vital part of their own creative processes was a game changer.
It’s one thing to leave a leadership session inspired and enlightened, and as a learning and development professional myself, it’s even more powerful if you have immediate and practical takeaways. As a direct result of this J Leaders session, the next day when I signed on for work, the first thing I did was go to my Calendly settings and add a “Walk & Talk w/ Leah” meeting option and I have already had so many people take me up on this. By moving throughout the day and taking time away from my computer and getting outside, I’m left recharged and able to do more creative thinking. Shabbat, in addition to being a day of rest, is also a separation from the rest of the week. By allowing myself time to separate throughout my day using some of these microhabits, I find myself better able to generate ideas and be in a refreshed mindset for these Shabbat-like moments throughout the week.
Blog post author Leah Palestrant is a 2022-23 J Leaders Academy Fellow and the Director of Springboard Fellowship for Hillel International.