In the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy and her friends–the scarecrow, the lion and the tin man–had one thing they each lacked. The tin man had no heart; the lion, no courage, the scarecrow, no brain; Dorothy, no home. Only Toto, the dog, and the Good Witch and Bad Witch seemed satisfied with their faculties.
The movie came to mind as I pondered today how little time we think in our lives–or, I should say–private thinking. We’re too busy following the yellow brick road.
From dawn to bedtime, we do take time to think; but we think mostly about work, finding work if we’re unemployed or conversations with our friends, families and associates. Phones, computers and other communication technologies add to the clutter in our minds, leaving many of us mentally exhausted as we hit the sack. Few of us leave any time in our waking state sitting quietly in purposeful, private thought.
The scarecrow, although he lacked a brain, probably did more purposeful thinking than his new friends until Dorothy and company rescued him from his pole. Unlike the rest of us, he wasn’t on a tight schedule to get the kids to school, fighting traffic to arrive at work on time or racing home to eat and relax a while before sleeping. He hung there, scaring off the crows, with plenty of time to think about his life. He wasn’t yet on the yellow brick road.
Imagine if Dorothy and the crew had thought about their individual and mutual goals before racing to the Emerald City. They probably would have discovered the answers to their worries before the fake wizard and Glenda, the good witch of the North, told them: the scarecrow had a brain, the lion courage, the tin man a heart and Dorothy was three clicks away from returning to Kansas.
Google gives their employees one day a week to work on personal projects. That’s 20% of time on the job. But management realized that Google is not in the Internet or advertising business. They’re in the technology business which requires creative thinking. And the best time to think about innovation is, quite often, in the privacy of one’s mind.
Likewise, Thomas J. Watson in the 1920’s and 1930’s introduced his employees at IBM to “think” desk signs, calendars, publications, newspapers, magazines, even a laptop computer called the “ThinkPad.” The New Yorker magazine did a cartoon as well.
I know that each of us has at least 15 minutes in a day, when our mind is clear, to take time to think about our problems, concerns and worries. We do have time despite the distractions in our lives. Just close your eyes, click your heels three times and take time to think.