The Spaces Between: Taking time for your personal development

What if you spent 30 minutes on your personal development every day? Reading. Blogging. Journaling. Drawing. Imagining. Networking. Planning your future. A half hour. Every. Single. Day.

A friend recently told me that in a “How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile” seminar, she learned that we should spend a certain amount of time each day focused on our personal and professional development. Each day? Wow, that sounded like a lot. I mean seriously, how many meaningful moments do you average each day, working on developing your strengths? Or your resume? Or your network?  Pffft, my answer to the question wasn’t all that great, so I decided to try out the concept.

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For one month, I’ve spent 30 minutes each day with focused attention on my personal development. Reading, writing, sharing, listening, and absorbing myself in energy focused on my growth as a professional and as a person. The results are predictably exciting and positive, but not for the reasons I’d expected.

Of course I learned a lot through tuning in to authors and speakers and mentors and idea-makers. But it wasn’t those active learning moments that made the biggest difference. It was the spaces bewteen that yielded a refreshing and unexpected rush of creativity, clarity and focus.

I believe that investing in your personal and professional growth is an iterative process best achieved through small, meaningful steps over time. Just like a great athlete or musician or speaker, it takes sustained and consistent effort to build the muscle memory needed to become fluent in any worthy pursuit. Intentional practice in directional increments is often said to be the secret to reaching a development goal. But I believe that in between those efforts of intention, the silent “pauses” are just as important. A pause can be a time of silent introspection or just a rest from the norm of day-to-day goal pursuit.

The pause is for me is about allowing thoughtful spaces between my rushed and hurried emails, calls, and meetings. It’s about protecting and valuing those spaces, rather than rushing to fill them with urgent-but-not-important matters…Allowing those spaces to be dedicated to developing my strengths and focusing on where I want to be, not just where I am.

English musician Gordon Sumner, better known as The Police’s Sting, once said,

“Paradoxically, I’m coming to believe in the importance of silence in music. The power of silence after a phrase of music for example; the dramatic silence after the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or the space between the notes of a Miles Davis solo. There is something very specific about a rest in music. You take your foot off the pedal and pay attention. I’m wondering whether, as musicians, the most important thing we do is merely to provide a frame for silence. I’m wondering if silence itself is perhaps the mystery at the heart of music? And is silence the most perfect music of all?”

What are you doing with the “spaces between” in your life?

Celebrate the spaces between

Let your ideas breathe…

How Can You Harness the Power of White Space?

Objects in a composition need to breathe. White space offers an airy canvas stage on which the parts of your design can freely dance. Just ask Mark Boulton, graphic designer and writer from the UK. Here’s my favorite part about Mark’s view on white space:

“Whitespace is often used to create a balanced, harmonious layout. One that just “feels” right. It can also take the reader on a journey through the design in the same way a photographer leaves “looking room” in a portrait shot by positioning the subject off the center of the frame and having them looking into the remaining space.”

Check out this slide show by Brand Autopsy to see some compelling use of white space.

Now, how can you use white space in your next design, web page, slide deck or thank you note to make a bold statement?

Looking forward to [the spaces between] your ideas,

 

Susan Hendrich

For small change, Vide Poche

Making room for small change can lead to big benefits…

Consider a Vide Poche.

One of my favorite interior design websites, apartmenttherapy.com, gave me the idea:

French for empty pockets, the vide poche is simply a small bowl or container kept in a convenient location to empty your pockets into when you walk through the door. Having somewhere to put your keys, loose change and wallet when you take off your coat helps minimize clutter and reduces the chance that you will be scrambling around looking for your keys next time you are late running out the door.

Here are four easy ways you can use a vide poche for increased effectiveness:

  1. Add vide poche to your leadership approach: Leave room for silence in your coaching sessions. Empty spaces in the conversation allow powerful introspection to take place. Resist the urge to fill in spaces with witty advice or riveting questions.
  2. Add vide poche to your instructional design approach: Create activities that encourage learners to reflect, not just produce the correct answer.
  3. Add vide poche to your graphic design approach: Remember the power of white space. It gives content room to breathe and have more impact. Enough said!
  4. Add vide poche to your home routine: Place an empty shoebox-sized container near your garbage can. When you bring in the stack of mail from your mailbox, place junk mail directly in the garbage and place bills or other actionable pieces into the shoebox for later addressing.

How can you use a vide poche to make space for increased success and life satisfaction?