Once, I had a guy send me a photo of the window he had in his office. He said, “Here is the window I sit and stare out of every day.”

I would have thought, “What an unproductive jerk,” except that this guy happens to be one of the most passionate, brilliant, successful guys I know. And I don’t doubt that his ability to sit and stare out the window has been a huge contributor to his success.

That said, to me, the idea of sitting and staring out of a window as “work” is akin to thinking that watching “Battlestar Galactica” in the dark while drinking beer is “work.” (For example.)

To slow down is to slack off. To let go of stress is to lose your edge. I’m certain that, if an employee walks into my office and finds me staring out the window, they’ll think, “Great, I’m working for a lazy-ass who sits around doing nothing while I do all the work.” And this would not do.

Of course, every artist, author, poet, actor, thinker, and leader I admire has essentially said the opposite: clarity and creativity often manifest only after hours of doing … nothing.

I know they’re right. It’s only a matter of giving myself permission to stop and breathe for a while.

So, why is it so hard? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

(I won’t close a sale I won’t meet a deadline I’ll miss a funny tweet my inbox will pile up something will change I’ll be the last to know)

Stop.

Step back. Get out the pen and the notepad. Stare off into space. Take some notes. Process, synthesize, and theorize. Check in. Change it up. See how you feel.

That’s where the real work happens.

This month, I remind myself, over and over: activity doesn’t equal productivity. It’s time to carve some space. Breathe some air. Pick your window, and start staring.