This is an excerpt from The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen
New habits can be powerful. But habits can also create barriers that limit our perspective, which can hinder kaizen, creativity, and even our knowledge of ourselves. This is known as the proverbial “rut,” and we’ve all been there at times in our lives.
Sometimes you just need a break to re-center, recalibrate, recharge, or readjust your horizons. In the Zen world, this is datsuzoku, a break from the routine. Datsuzoku can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep or as common as taking a week of vacation.
I try to insert breaks in my routines in many ways. My wife and I visit a couple of new countries each year—we’re up to over sixty now. Later on, I’ll tell you about how every year for over twenty years I’ve had an annual goal to do or learn something different. These have included running a marathon, learning HTML programming, and researching Biblical history. Each month, I try to read a book on a topic I otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in. Each week, I take some time for myself and try to find a new place to walk. With all of these breaks, my perspectives change and I learn something.
What habits or activities do you have at home, at work, or with your team, that need to be examined? What would happen if you broke those routines? What would you learn? How would perspectives change? Could it enable change or innovation?