Finding inspiration in spaces  

Joseph Campbell, a keen observer of we humans, has some insight on how we carve out and spend our time.  As can be seen below, he is big proponent of ‘sacred’ spaces.    He’s not talking about churches, temples or cathedrals,  he’s talking about inviolate space, discrete time, or an uninterruptible compartment that is all yours.

[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

Every day we hustle and bustle wondering why we are so busy yet don’t seem to feel done.  We have ongoing things to keep our minds occupied.  We might feel so full of activities, there is little room for ideas.   How to find a way to shift this to open up to our own inspiration?  How do we step away from your check lists? Where  can we find our calm, ourselves & our creativity?

Take a moment to find a free space (like the tree house you might have had as a kid) where you have quiet with no interruptions.  This may not need to be an actual space, it can be a state of mind where you pull the car over for a “space” of time or close your office door to create that sense of spaciousness.  Decide on a realistic amount of time per day – 10 minutes, 1/2 an hour or an hour  that will be possible for you to set aside.  Commit to taking that time every day.   Allow this time to just be, resist the desire to fill it with thoughts or tasks or guilt for not doing something.   Observe your reactions to this space – do you feel bored, irritated, anxious, calm, relaxed?  As you continue with this committed space, you’ll notice your resistance will shift to enjoyment.   You’ll also discover that your mind is freer, even when you are busy.   Soon you’ll notice that in addition to being less caught up, you will actually find some new ideas and surprising solutions to situations you are facing.   Watch.  Learn.  Enjoy.


Do you hear what I hear?

No, no, this is not an early reminder of the caroling you’ll hear over the next few weeks. It’s a question about what you HEAR. The question could be said “do you hear what I said? or “do I hear what you said?”.   We often think the person in front of us who is nodding in agreement is really understanding exactly what we are saying.  Most likely, it is not the case.  The other person comes to the conversation with their experiences, perspectives, attitudes and points of reference as do we.   These elements become filters are used to “hear” what is being said.  We must be aware that “filtering” is a given when we interact with people.

When someone isn’t responding to what you are saying in an expected way – ask yourself if there are other ways to interpret what you have said.  Ask the other person what they heard.  Were they even listening?  With so many distractions today it is easy to have one’s attention wander.  Combine that with our natural tendency to filter, its VERY easy to misunderstand the message.  Make your conversations interactive by asking questions that engage the other person.  These questions & answers can even validate that the message is being delivered!  Try it you might be surprised at how helpful a little attention to this can provide clarity.  Keep the question ‘do you hear what I hear’ close at hand to remind yourself to check in on understanding.

WORK: Move from surviving to THRIVING…!

Work is a fluid notion.  Sometimes it is so in line with who we are we hardly think about it as work.  Other times it takes everything we have to get to it and get it done.  If you are lucky enough to fly through your day, keep it up, the world needs as many fully engaged people as possible!!  If you are just floating along or having a hard time doing what you are tasked to do you may find some ideas below.

For some work is ok but not great…  How do we move it up a few notches to get more zip & energy into our days?  We need to do a some personal homework on our own motivation, desires and an honest understanding of what our situation is.  Sometimes we get so accustomed to low grade dissatisfaction that we don’t realize how much control we have over it.   Carve out some time to look at your situation.

Your job
What motivates you about your job?  What are your responsibilities?  What pressures do you feel ?
Do you do much outside your official scope?  Is that by choice or by request?

What is your favorite part of your job?  Least favorite?  Neutral parts?
Where do the bulk of your responsibilities fall in the spectrum of like vs. not like?
If you can’t really decide your favorite, think about how you feel doing your various tasks – happy, light, heavy, resistant, disinterested?

Your co-workers
What is your interaction with them?  What is the tone of your conversations?
Who lightens your day?  Who brings you down?
Is collaboration an ingredient of your role?  Does that work easily with others?

Your company culture
Is there a sense of camaraderie?  Does the company encourage team building?
Does competition reign as a tool to motivate people?  What is your reaction to that?

Look at all these things carefully, is there room for shifting the way you do your job?  If you’ve begun to dig deeply you should be able to determine a pattern that would allow you to do some “job sculpting” as outlined by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton in their What Motivates Me book.
You’ll want to work with your boss to take on more of the things you enjoy and do well.  You can shift some collaborations to include those co-workers you work well with.  Ideally you’ll be able to explore areas of interest you’ve identified so you can build and learn new capabilities.  Understanding what drives you is as important as knowing what you do well (as nicely outlined in Gostick & Elton’s book).

This is a multi-pronged project, some of these modifications can be done with help of those around you, your boss, your co-workers, your customers, etc.  Other modifications may need to show up in your view of what lies in front of you.  Using a different lens.  Things are ever changing so we need to pay attention to what is happening around us.  When things are shifting we need to respond as if it is an opportunity.  Being proactive may actually help optimize your performance and bring that sense of thriving to life!


Why partnering makes sense.

Having a knowledgeable outsider and provide insights into what you as a company, team or individual are up to can make all the difference in the world.  The different lens used to assess the circumstances is what partnering is all about.  Understand the intricacies, assess opportunities and give an honest recommendation in return.  It works.  There are many ‘aha’ moments.  Give it a try.