seven as fast as you can. Easy, right?
Now recite your ABCs from A to G as
fast as you can. I know, you are on fire.
Nicely done. Now, applying all your
multitasking skills and superhuman
speed, do both together: 1-A, 2-B, etc.
Come on, faster, as fast as you did 1-7
or A-G. What’s slowing you down?
Here is the reality: multitasking is
the equivalent of trying to drive while
being impaired by alcohol. Check out
the highway safety stats for people tex-
ting and driving . . . I mean multitask-
ing. Why would you place your life at
risk in your car? But here is the better
question: Why would you treat your
job, your reputation, your partners, and
family and friends like that? Why give
them the impaired you when you could
be “in the zone?”
Here is another way to look at it.
There are times when leaders make bad
choices, but it’s not likely because of
a low IQ (despite how poor the choice
may appear). I would suggest that, most
of the time, it’s because that person was
living an over-taxed, hard-charging,
white-noise-filled and time-pressed ex-
istence. That person allowed their life
to be lived on autopilot, never taking
time to break free to be present. Liv-
ing like this leads to reactive decision-
making that is seen as careless, dumb,
or without insight or understanding.
Even worse, maintaining a life
like this often leads to a laundry list
of adaptive behaviors as a method of
“self-medicating” or escaping. Because
lawyers often live this rapid-fire, quick-decision, time-pressed lifestyle, they
have some of the highest incidences
of alcohol abuse, illicit and prescription drug abuse (overuse of sleeping
pills, over-reliance on anti-depressive
and anti-anxiety medications), stress-induced insomnia, depression, eating
disorders, and more.
We know from studies that our mind,
our brain, craves space. People are
five times more likely to make the
right choice if they have time to think
about it. We need to make space in
order to be creative, to see the bigger
picture, to find answers, and to break
the chains of a dulled, multitasking,
treadmill existence. We need space and
relief first, and then perhaps the need
for harmful behaviors can dissipate. We
need space first, before we can feel like
ourselves again and let our brilliance
shine through once more.
You know how this works. How many
times have you left on vacation and just as
you finally remove your mind from work,
all of a sudden the answer hits you right
out of thin air? You weren’t even thinking
about it and BAM! — there it was.
The power of giving our brain some
space is unequaled as a tool for success
as a leader, a lawyer, a spouse, and a par-
ent. It returns our focus, helps us see our
true priorities, invigorates creativity,
gives clarity and it leads to well-made
decisions, both big and small.
However, “making space” doesn’t
necessarily require a vacation. The same
benefits can be found by being present,
even for a moment. “Meditation” is a
scary word for some. (I know, and I have
We are truly saddened at the passing of our
friend, partner and mentor.
Wayne’s guidance, humor, kindness and leadership
through many years will be greatly missed.
D. Wayne Gittinger
January 22, 1933
March 6, 2014