Whether you’re leading thousands in a large organization or investing personal sweat and tears to launch an entrepreneurial venture, the time you spend daydreaming could be the most productive part of any day. Here are five occasions when you should daydream:
Conceiving a vision for success. The first and often most important task for a leader is to articulate what success looks like. Daydreaming allows for focused mental clarity before sharing your vision with the world.
Devising strategies. Strategy is about determining the most effective way to achieve a goal. Daydreaming illuminates your path and allows you to anticipate any hurdles that may arise.
Creative problem-solving. Daydreaming allows you to anticipate worst-case scenarios and shore up plans and resources. In fact, neuroscientists have determined one’s “executive network”—the circuits and pathways in the brain that engage when you need to perform complex cognitive processes—is well-suited for complex reasoning and pursuing immediate goals. Producing unexpected breakthroughs, however, requires the use of the “default network,” which is only activated while you are not focused on the outside world and your brain is at wakeful rest. In other words: During daydreaming.
Needing a stress- or barrier-free sounding board for tough situations. Let's face it, you can't screw up in a daydream. There are no career-risking implications for mistakes. You can try or say things in a daydream that you dare not in the real world.
Want a mental vacation. Just as you might come back from a vacation relaxed and ready to take on the world, a daydream can provide you with similar renewing qualities for far less money.
So the next time you’re under a tight deadline to deliver critical results, the brilliance you seek might be closer than you think—in a brief but well-deserved daydream.
Galen D. Bingham is an executive coach with leadership experience with Kraft Foods, Imperial Sugar, and Coca-Cola. His latest titles, Leadership Residue: A Leadership Fable (Amazon, $21.95) and Leadership Residue: Writings on the Wall (Amazon, $5.99), focus on creating inspiration that remains even after the leader is gone.