Becoming Our Best


Recently, I had an occasion to drive across the plains of South Dakota. Wide, open spaces. Cattle country, with many places where even a ranch building isn't visible. It was a good feeling to see so much of the sky, the earth's texture and the mute but evocative colors of Fall in the cottonwood trees and prairie grass. Life seems to move at its own, graceful pace out here.

Does this open space have any lessons for us in our lives and organizations? I believe so. A wise man once told me that silences are as important as what is spoken: Silences like the intervals between sentences, or between thoughts in a conversation. Think about it: the difference in meaning that occurs when we pause a moment after saying something. Or when we don't answer someone immediately.

In a larger context, what does this kind of open space mean to us and our teams? It seems that constant activity and doing things from early in the morning to late at night is the order of the day in most places. But it occurs to me that many of our best and deepest thoughts come in times of quiet when nothing is happening. At the beach, in the mountains, driving across the plains. Creativity is freed from the sometimes suffocating matrix of routine activity.

Let's assume that open spaces can be good for us and our team members; and perhaps provide long term benefits. Then how can we provide for these quiet times in our lives and for our teams? Try these approaches:

* Be aware of the benefits to yourself of some open space and time.

* Make special intervals to reflect and be creative.

* Allow your team members a little open space and time for good ideas to emerge.

* Balance the necessary rush of activity with quiet moments to refresh people's minds and give perspective.

* Practice having open spaces. Being quiet is almost counter-cultural and so can take some getting used to.

Life and work are enriched by moments of quiet and reflection. Conversations are deepened when we take the time to speak carefully or thoughtfully pause before responding. Start by trying to make some time for yourself without TV, radio or Walkman to personally experience open space. Then provide the same kind of opportunity for your team. The results may pleasantly surprise you!

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940

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