Inaction: A Brilliant Course of Action

Picture 23

This eCard made me smile, but probably not for the reason the author intended.

I believe that when faced with a problem sometimes sitting back and just giving it a little time is exactly the right course of action. I know from experience that when I have a creative problem to solve I sometimes have to step away and go do something else while my subconscious works on a solution. I’ve had numerous solutions present themselves while enjoying a bubble bath, taking a walk, flipping through a magazine or waking up from a good nap.

Apparently, a lot of important men in history share my philosophy, especially when it comes to napping for productivity. According to “A Man’s Life, Lessons in Manliness” several powerful, smart, famous men embraced the art of napping.

Winston Churchill and President John F. Kennedy both felt that a 1-2 hour afternoon nap was a non-negotiable part of their day. For Kennedy, nap time was sacred. JB West, Head of the White House Staff at the time, recalled that “During those hours the Kennedy doors were closed. No telephone calls were allowed, no folders sent up, no interruptions from the staff. Nobody went upstairs, for any reason.”

At the urging of Jackie Kennedy, LBJ also began taking naps as part of his “two-shift day” schedule. “He woke up at 6:30 or 7, read the newspapers, and then headed to the White House where he worked until 2 pm. He would then exercise, taking a swim or brisk walk, before donning his pajamas and settling in for a 30 minute nap. He awoke up at 4, changed into clean clothes and began his “second shift” of the day, sometimes working until 1 or 2 in the morning.“

Other leaders with documented ability of falling asleep at the drop of a hat are Napoleon Bonaparte and Stonewall Jackson. Napoleon would go days without changing his clothes much less getting a full night’s sleep. But even with canons blasting nearby and mere hours remaining before going into battle he was able to sleep like a baby for a few hours. Jackson shared this uncanny ability and could nap in any place—by fences, under tress, on porches, even on horseback with his confidante holding his coat tail to keep him upright.

Edison-Sleeps

Thomas Edison Sleeps (Photo Credit: http://artofmanliness.com)

The great inventor Thomas Edison, was a “self-hating napper“. “He liked to boast about how hard he worked, how he slept only three or four hours a night, and how he would sometimes work for 72 hours straight. But in truth the key to his spectacular productivity was something he was loathe to mention and hid from others: daily napping.“ He would get in several 3-hour naps a day, sometimes in a bed, but often on a workbench or in a closet. Edison said he could sleep “as sound as a bug in a barrel of morphine.”

Salvador Dali and Albert Einstein had a napping schedule based on brevity called “slumber with a key”, which they felt inspired their ideas and creativity. “Slumber with a key was an afternoon siesta designed to last no longer than a second.“ To accomplish this micro nap, they would sit in a chair with a heavy metal key pressed between their thumb and forefinger. They then placed a plate upside down on the floor underneath the hand with the key. The moment they fell asleep, the key would slip from their fingers, clang the plate, and awaken them. (With a startle, I’m sure.)

So the next time you see someone slink away in the middle of the day to take a much-needed nap, don’t be too quick to judge. Chances are, they’re not lazy or trying to momentarily escape reality. They may simply be solving the world’s biggest problems or finding creative solutions to their own in their subconscious.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………

(Special Note: My dad, who was the VP of a civil engineering firm, used to take lunch-time naps on his drafting table, curling up with the pillow he stashed in his office drawer. His secretary knew that he was not to be disturbed for any reason. When I lived close to work, I would run home to nap for 30 minutes before eating a quick-lunch and returning to the office. Napping it seems, is in my genes—and I am a pro! )

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s