December 12, 2019 | Kari Sebern, P.E.

Kari Sebern, P.E.; Principal; Sebern Structural Services, PLLC

I’m a structural engineer by trade. By society’s standards, this means I dwell in the deep recesses of my left side brain. But if I stay here, it means I’m only utilizing a portion of my potential. And this puts me at dangerous risk of becoming a commodity. I used to fully believe that spending all of my time honing in on these logical strengths would make me most successful. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that it’s poor practice to try to use one side of my brain nonstop every day and expect extreme efficiency and perfection. I am not a machine, I am human. A productive, rewarding and successful career is comprised of a concerted balance of left and right brain engagement. 

Many people talk about “in the shower moments” or dreams that solve complex problems. The best ideas frequently come when a mind is allowed to rest. However, these moments don’t have to be chance encounter; it is possible to be intentional and develop a practice of stillness. Start by removing distractions. Shut off the TV. Get comfortable. Close the eyes. Visualize a goal or intention. Sit still and allow the subconscious to work. It is amazing what thoughts come to mind during this time. Stillness unlocks creativity and creativity unlocks ingenuity. And, even in extremely logical and scientific career paths, creativity is vital. This is what fosters ideas that catapult a business from average to something unique and paramount. 

Revisiting hobbies from childhood is another way to evoke inspiration. I used to love the inherent perfection of throwing on a pottery wheel when I was a child. I recently returned to this hobby, and I can still get lost in the throwing process and get to a state of flow. And that flow is like magic salve for the soul and a superhighway for new ideas. It fosters creativity and drive that could otherwise become stagnant if they weren’t reinvigorated by flow. 

So here are the takeaways: Challenge yourself to reserve time and space to allow your mind to be still. Get lost in your hobbies from time to time. Offer mental health benefits to your employees such as a yoga studio membership, rowing classes, massage sessions or meditation practices. Better yet, bring these services onsite. Heck, maybe even take a vacation and encourage your employees to do the same. Your career and your business will thank you.

Kari Sebern, P.E., is principal at Sebern Structural Services, PLLC. Email her at