A sliver of space.
I love that phrase and cannot take credit for it. It is a gift from my colleague Alli Polin. Do you make sure you have your slivers of space? Alli asked in a tweet a few years back. I knew exactly what she was talking about. The phrase has stuck with me ever since.I had a coaching chat with Donna last week, CFO of a global high-tech firm. I simply never have time to do everything I am supposed to do on any given day, Donna said. The worst part is running from one meeting to the next to the next. I just keep running. I never stop. Yup. Been, there done that. Slivers denied.I dine with my friend Javier at La Salumeria, a favorite Italian trattoria in Midtown Miami. I’m in a bad mood, Javier warns me before we meet. The Impeachment coverage. I simply cannot watch the news anymore. It’s all too much. Fast. Relentless. Dissected. Spun. The information keeps coming. The brain goes on overdrive. Emotions stir. Too much.Donna is yearning for a sliver of space. So is Javier.
- The moment when we can reflect on what just happened.
- The moment when the mental fog lifts.
- The moment when meaning becomes clear.
- The moment when we surprise ourselves.
- And we don’t need all that much time for this to happen. We simply need a sliver of space.It’s holiday week. Many of us do not work at all this week, or perhaps we work less. And yet, the rush of obligations can make it feel like we’re working even harder.Langevin Learning Services, the largest train-the-trainer company in the world and a former employer of mine, had this figured out. When I worked for Langevin as a course leader back in the late 90s, I delivered 3-day training programs. That’s the training version of the long-distance run.The slivers of space in a 3-day run? We took the prerequisite breaks, of course. But each break was followed by a 5-minute transition period. We’d do a puzzle. We’d show a cartoon. Something light. It was our sliver of space. It was the time when participant brains could switch gears. Digest whatever messages they had received during the break. Settle back into learning mode. Be present again.Our 5-minute fluff time was not wasted time. It was harness-the-energy-time. It was accelerated-learning-time.I have a coffee-maker in my office. But I finally understand that jumping into my convertible and driving to Starbucks is not wasted time. It’s my sliver of space. The change of scenery invigorates me. The sun supercharges me. My productivity boomerangs. Always. And it’s not about the caffeine.
A sliver of space. Essential time.Key word is “sliver.” Finite. Miniscule. Brief. Our moments of unstructured freedom. A sliver can happen in mere minutes, seconds. So this holiday week, as you surrender to your social commitments and perhaps get a little busy, consider your slivers of space. Claim them. Often. Again and again. Because it’s in the slivers that we remember what matters most and who we really are.Have a blessed holiday week. And remember.
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