In a recent Guardian article Oliver Burkeman wrote about “Breather” – a fabulous US initiative where you can rent space which offers “peace and quiet on demand”. Breather space can be rented by the hour in many major US cities. This raises the question – why do we think of retreat and restoration as rare occurrences – such as the luxury of taking a long holiday or a mindfulness retreat?
We underestimate the value of restoration and reflection in our lives, whether this is work or more. Neuroscientific research shows that to function well mentally we should work for 60-90 minutes and then take a refreshing break. Yet very few manage this ideal in the fast paced 24/7 world of connectivity.
In action learning sets we often find that set members particularly value the space to think. To reflect on something that has been going round in their mind and to be invited to take the space to look at it from different perspectives. The peace and quiet to consider something that matters brings a fresh energy to the situation. It provides a really rich source of learning as well as the courage and resolution to act in a way that the presenter may not have previously perceived.
Perhaps the way we are increasingly expected to be available around the clock will eventually bring with it a widespread recognition that to be truly effective we need to reflect as well as act and respond.