30: Successful Mindlessness

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Specific kinds of planned, unfocused time can stimulate cognitive calmness, jumpstart productivity, enhance innovation, inspire creativity, improve long term memory and help you stay on target. Dr. Srini Pillay returns to HR Studio Podcast to discuss his new book, Tinker Dabble Doodle Try. He takes us on a fascinating tour through brain wavelengths and rhythm, mindsets and mental relaxation. Dr. Pillay is an award winning author and world recognized Harvard trained expert. He’s a physician, psychiatrist, and executive coach and talented musician!

Key Learnings From This Episode

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  • The story behind the book. Dr. Pillay is passionate about many things - brain science and human psychology; he is a musician, loves playing tennis, and loves thinking about people and human nature; and he is into technology, innovation, and leadership development. This drove the decision to write about how an unfocused mindset is more productive and helps you get to your goals. People reaching their goals has less to do with strategy and is more about how much of themselves are engaged. Successful people build unfocused time into their lives in a very deliberate way. You need to incorporate more of yourself – have more of yourself onboard – to carry out your strategy.
  • “Focus invites all of the concrete parts of your identity to the table. Unfocus invites other ‘silverware’ to the table”, the little things in your life. Once that person is invited to the table, that person can carry out the strategy. Most people go through their lives with one-tenth of themselves on board. 
  • What happens in the brain when you switch from focus to unfocus? Focus is what you see in front of you, the ‘low beams’; unfocused is what you see in the distance, the ‘high beams’, a wider net. 
  • Take good care of your brain. Schedule unfocused time into your day, a few times a day. 
  • How to Intentionally schedule unfocused time:  
    • Add doodling to your day. Many US presidents doodled. When you doodle, you improve your memory.  
    • Add napping to your day. A ten minute nap can increase clarity; a 90 minute nap increases creativity.
    • Include positive, constructive daydreaming. Tell yourself to remove your attention from looking at your computer or looking at your phone and spend some time inside of ‘you’.  It is helpful to close your eyes and pull your attention away from outside, look inside and just let your mind wander. This is not mindfulness – it is mindlessness. You start with a wishful, playful image like lying on a yacht. And you do this best while doing something low key. i.e. not nothing
    • Dabble in something you are interested in. You don’t have to be an expert.
    • Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. Reorient yourself with freedom.
  • How can an HR leader instill ‘unfocused’ time in the culture? What if you designated a napping room, made napping part of the culture, and measured outcomes? Instead of sneaking in a nap, you could go to the napping room and take a nap.

    In order to achieve your mission and vision, you have to take yourself out of reality to focus on possibility. People lose sight of vision because reality makes them cynical.  Every quarter have people revisit how they can add one more step to the vision for themselves to make it relevant to them.

Recommended Reading and References from this Episode

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Dr. Srini Pillay HR Studio Podcast Notes
Dr. Srini Pillay HR Studio Podcast Notes
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 8:00am
Kyle O'Connor
Dr. Srini Pillay
HR Studio Podcast