I’m on my way to HATCH and then the CEO Connection Mid-Market Convention. This is one of the most mentally stimulating weeks of the year for me. The HATCH experience in Montana is a gathering of “100 of the most provocative innovators, inventors, and cultural catalysts” coming together to “HATCH a better world.” CEO Connection’s convention gathers 150-200 mid-market CEOs and experts to help those CEOs and their companies be even more successful “where innovation meets scale”. Each causes me to think in different ways. What does that for you?

Different people create in different ways. Some have “blank page creativity” – the ability to sit down with a blank page or canvas and imagine completely new things. Not me. I’m a thief. I create by connecting unconnected and often seemingly unconnectable things. That connection sparks new ideas that I use in my personal life, in business and in my writing.

At HATCH, “Attendees who are invited each year cover a wide swath of humanity – Oscar-winning filmmakers, Grammy-winning Musicians, CEO’s and Founders of diverse companies and non-profits, designers from IDEO, NASA, Google, and a wide range of hackers, inventors, educators, disruptors, and mavericks.” Most of these people live and think differently than I do.

The CEO Convention is all about connections, ideas and impact. CEOs come to build new relationships, learn from each other and do things together that will impact their customers, businesses and the world.

For me, each is valuable. The juxtaposition is jarring. Next Sunday I will wake up 8,000 feet above sea level in the mountains of Montana and end the day at the opening reception of the CEO Convention in Philadelphia. As I said, it’s a provocative and rewarding week.


Breaks with purpose

It would not be unfair to describe these as big breaks from my routine. There’s a body of evidence suggesting we all need breaks from our routines. Some people can go years without a break. Others work like crazy for a couple of months and then collapse. I seem to be able to make it only an hour or two without a break.

The good news is that I know it. I stay focused until my attention starts to wane. Then I make a change and do or think about something else. Sometimes it’s a quick walk around the office. Sometimes it’s a nap. Those clear my head and allow me to regroup. The more valuable breaks involve some sort of new stimulation: a conversation with someone else or reading, listening or viewing something different.

We build substantial breaks into our CEO Boot Camps and into CEO Convention between program modules. The breaks give people a chance to follow up with each other, meet new people and take mental excursions – breaks with purpose.


Implications for you

1. Understand the rhythm of your mind. Pay attention to your attention. Figure out when, where and how you do your best thinking. Then decide when you’re going to build in little and longer breaks.

2. Create time to give yourself mental breaks. The breaks won’t happen on their own. There’s always someone or something calling on your time. You must, must, must take charge of yourself and deliberately carve out time for to rest and refresh.

3. Use little breaks to rest. Not all breaks have to propel you forward. Use short breaks to clear your head and give your brain a moment to re-look at all the ideas already swirling around and regroup.

4. Use longer breaks to refresh. Longer breaks are your breaks with a purpose. This could be just long enough to take in a new article or have a quick conversation. This could be a week exploring the art galleries of Southern Southland or Northern Northland or anywhere.

5. Help others do the same. Sometimes you’re the one calling on others’ time. Help them by giving them permission to take breaks. Prompt their breaks. Take breaks with them. You’ll learn and grow together.