Peter Bregman is a Do-Nothing Guy

A Kayaker’s Take on Peter Bregman’s HBR Article

Author and business strategist, Peter Bregman, recently posted an excellent Harvard Business Review blog piece entitled, Restore Yourself to Your Factory Default Settings. In it, he touts the wisdom gained from a short do-nothing break.

Asleep in a kayak
Doing Nothing Rather Well

When you unplug and wait for a minute, you restore yourself to your factory default settings, which for most of us tends to be generous, open-hearted, creative, connected, and hopeful. ” -PB

His subsequent article, When Nothing Works, explored the concept more radically.

“In my last blog post, Restore Yourself to Your Factory Default Settings, I suggested that doing nothing for a minute might help change things. Sometimes, though, it’s worth taking that to the extreme.“-PB

I’d encourage you to read both articles. They’re in line with his latest book,  18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. IMHO Peter Bregman does nothing with exceptionally good results. :)

Peter’s writing prompted me to leave him a thumbs-up comment. More than “great job, loved the insight,” I found myself crafting ideas. Clearly I cared about the topic. Hmmm, says I, thar be a blog article somewhere in this. <sudden smack to forehead> Whoa!–I just wrote it!

Here she be:

Paddle hard dave!

Doing Nothing: Good Kayaking & Good Business

Kayakers have a saying: “The best brace is a forward stroke.” As an avid kayaker myself, I’ve proven its wisdom in a variety of conditions. But sometimes you’re better off doing nothing, riding current, particularly when slapping the water is a result of desperate thinking.

If I’m too tense, I destabilize. If I relax and observe, I plant the paddle smarter. The rowdier the situation, the less effort I should exert. If I’m are unwilling to learn how to quiet myself in midst of wild water, I’ll never get past lakes on flat days. Oh they’re mighty pleasant, but they don’t compare to the rush of surfing a wave or the enchantment of paddling into hidden sea caves.

The business metaphor is obvious. If I want more from my sport or my workplace, I must build neuronal pathways that “stop the insanity.”  I must go beyond the default response of pushing harder and harder. Whether it’s a momentary break or a strategic decision, the act of doing nothing can reveal unforeseen options.

Stop and have a cup of coffee
Coffee break, anyone?

This is precisely why I wrote Meditation For Busy People and why practices such as The Relaxation Response are so important. They teach us how to stop and remain aware despite the drama we encounter. 

If your first response always full speed ahead, maybe its time to learn an alternative saying:

Ready… Set… WAIT.


Thanks for the inspiration, Peter. Now I’m going out for a paddle.