"We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery."
H.G. Wells

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 533

Estimated reading time:  3.45 minutes


“Time is on my side” The old Stones tune has been rattling around my brain for a couple of days. Heading to a meeting I stopped in at a Starbucks and using my app to pay for my tea, the barista mentioned that I can now order from my app and it will be ready for pick up when I arrive. The instructions card is titled “No time? No Line.”


If you do not have time to get a coffee or a snack, you’re not thinking. Seriously, if you are that busy, or that late, your brain is reacting, not thinking. 


We are learning from neuroscience research that our brains might be described as having two systems, known by many as System 1 and System 2. System 1 is the fast system. It is associative, automatic and unconscious. It is the system that holds your habits, holds your quick responses, your ability to react and even to drive and talk at the same time. It is the default system that kicks in when we are stressed, when we are under threat, like when we are late, and too much to do to wait in line for a coffee. System 2 thinking is the slow system, that appears to be distinctively human. It is controlled and controlling and conscious. System 1 looks after the default, the day to day, while System 2 is where we think, where we create, where we navigate the complexities of the world we live in. System 2 is also directly related to our vital social needs like self-regulation, impulse control and will power. System 2 is where we think.


In the ‘knowledge economy’ we are paid to think. If you are so busy you can’t think…. well there’s a problem.


Here are three suggestions to help keep your slower but more valuable System 2 on line:


  1. Use line ups as times for quiet mindfulness; just focus on your breathing, don't let yourself go to “monkey mind” (Do the same thing sitting in a dentist chair, or waiting for medical appointments.)
  2. Book quiet time, even just 10 minutes every morning in your calendar, and treat it like an appointment with yourself, to think about who and what your are grateful for
  3. Stop watching the news and reading the paper every day, go to 4 days a week. The news is a product, with a rhythm for every story that triggers System 1, it compels us to react, not to think. Listen to music, read a novel, talk with your family, instead of watching the news for at least 3 days a week. 


The key to success in the knowledge economy is to think. And to do that we need to get our thinking brains, our System 2, in gear. For that, “Time is on my side.”





My apologies for missing last week. My Mum had a bad episode and so I was focused on family.  It was good for her, and for our family. I am so thankful to have had the chance to engage so fully.