A friend of mine introduced me to a book called A Whole New Mind: Why the Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel H. Pink. It presents powerful evidence that creativity, inspiration, and innovation are the true keys to business and personal success. Companies that foster these qualities thrive even in today's terrible economy. However, most CEOs and business leaders are still running their workplaces in such a way as to punish and discourage creativity and innovation.
Just Like the Body, the Brain Is Not a Machine
How does an athlete train? They work their bodies and push them to the limit, but then they pamper and feed their bodies to recover. An athlete would know better than to starve themselves. Brainthletes have similar needs. One the one hand, they need to create personal goals and disciplines. On the other hand, they need to make sure there is time to recharge and rest the mind. Just ask someone who lives completely off the products of the mind how difficult it is. Artists and writers know very well that the most valuable and limited resource is their own ability to find inspiration.
You Can't Get "Outside the Box" While in the Box
The best ideas don't come from sitting at a desk or in a cubicle. They come while jogging, taking a shower, at a favorite cafe, etc. Creative minds know they have to develop personal habits to nurture inspiration. These habits often cause a lot of tension in a traditional work environment. Managers and business owners have to learn to compromise with good talent to give them the freedom needed to do what they do best without having complete chaos.
Having Fun is Good for Business
Everyone does better with less mental stress, and nothing relieves mental stress more than play. Workaholics tend to look at play as irresponsible and unproductive. The truth is that play is right up there with sleep on the "you have to have it" scale of mental health. If people can have fun with their job, they will do better at it.
"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle
Personal Time is Profitable
Since its inception, Google has allowed its employees to spend 20% of their time on personal projects. Google now says that 50% of its products have come from that 20% of time employees had to develop ideas. It can seem counter intuitive and wasteful to give employees time to work on ideas that are not directly income related, but it is ultimately what keeps modern businesses relevant and ahead of the game. Without that time, you are doomed to see another company surpass your products and services "while you were working".