Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day 3: Taking Time to Think

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Few people would argue against stepping out of your daily grind from time-to-time.

Yet fewer people actually do so.

Gaining a new perspective motivated my trip to spend a week at Buchanan&associates, an advertising agency in a Columbus suburb.

By midweek the trip already paid for itself. My mind percolates with new thoughts, and my enthusiasm for my job skyrockets.

That said, the benefit of this trip increased exponentially at lunch Wednesday.

Several of us sat around a table at the Burgundy Room contrasting academic and industry research and contemplating future connections between the two. We talked about differences between the time pressures facing academic and those facing professionals.

And then agency head Jack Buchanan said that the benefit of academia is having time to think.

As simple as it sounds, it stopped me in my tracks. I'm not taking enough time to think.

My name will be on five journal publications and another edited book chapter during calendar year 2007. For a communication scholar, this is a great year. I'm proud of this year.

But what was the price? If you're always sitting at the computer pounding out a manuscript, you are thinking. But you're not thinking about the big picture. You're being a practical scholar but not really living up to potential.

During my master's program at Kansas State, Tom Grimes talked about the business of ideas.

And ideas drive me.

And somewhere along the way, I lost sight of that just a little bit.

I still spend a lot of time thinking, don't get me wrong. But my thinking has edged ever-so-slightly toward the model of Henry Ford.

Being a research professor is, hopefully, about thinking entirely new thoughts. That's harder to do when you're too closely focused on the next publication to go out the door. You know, something about the forest and trees.

So I am indebted to Mr. Buchanan for unintentionally reminding me that I was taking the best part of my job for granted.

I've got to run now. It's time to think.

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