I heard on the car radio as I was travelling through beautiful sunny Sussex today about the ‘fuzzy brain’ syndrome. Of course, it was linked to covid-19 – everything is at present – and how increasingly people are reporting that, after coping magnificently with the pandemic, keeping their businesses going, looking after family, they’ve lost their drive, their focus, their ambition, their sense of leadership. They’ve put together plans and not followed any of them up, they’ve devised strategies and then abandoned them. They’ve made lists and then sat down to read a book or spent hours scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. But when you're a leader can you afford to have a 'fuzzy brain'? Does it lead to fuzzy leadership?
Psychologists, according to this item’s speaker, say this is because our brains have been over-stretched during lockdown. We’ve been coping with unprecedented changes in our lives where even the most mundane action, such as shopping for food, has required intense planning and navigation of the bumps and trip hazards surrounding us. As a result we’re now entering a phase where our brains are saying, ‘hang on, give me a break!’ The ennui people are experiencing is the brain’s default protective mechanism.
I too have experienced ‘fuzzy brain’ syndrome. I also described it to one of my Thinking Partners as the last months being a series of hills and valleys and at times I don’t know whether I’m going into the valley or coming up out of it. But it’s the Thinking sessions that have dragged me out of ‘fuzzy brain’ and into the sunny uplands – to mix metaphors.
I have two thinking sessions a week with different partners. Sometimes they’re a ramble, although more often than not, it gives me the opportunity to work through and out the other side of ‘fuzzy brain’ allowing me to refocus. Nine times out of ten I have a breakthrough and an issue that’s been bugging me for weeks (how to turn a unit of a course online, how to tactfully tell someone they’re far too unfit and overweight – acknowledging that I too have grown a dress size) is resolved in less than 20 minutes. It has allowed me to regain my focus. And focus is what every leader needs now.
It's the power of the Thinking Environment and Time to Think, which surely has come into its own during the pandemic. It has shown a way for leaders to regain their 'mojo' and, for me to continue to propose it as an invaluable methodology to help you, your team, your organisation, your community to come out of covid-19 with vigour.
And so, to paraphrase the great storyteller Jasper Conrad, ‘my task … is by using the power of Time to Think, to make you hear, to make you feel, to make you see – it is, before all, to make you think. That and no more – and it is everything.”
Laura Murphy blogs about things that interest her. They might not interest you but read them anyway. It might even change your mind.