“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Taking time to step away from the long list of tasks, demands, and meetings in order to breathe, and be present to yourself, is one of the most important acts of a leader. It’s both an act of self-care and an act for others. Leaders, by nature, have responsibility for others: their clients, associates, stakeholders, families and communities. Leaders must also care for themselves in order to be at their best. You may have read about this and know it cognitively, yet do you know it in your heart? In your body? In your soul?
I’ve written on this topic before, and I regularly work with clients on how to be more mindful, more intentional and connected to their vision and relationships. Yet it was only when I had a recent experience myself, that I was reminded about the intrinsic value of these practices.
It’s been a busy year at Capacity Group with terrific clients, meaningful work and travel. In addition, this year has been significant for me personally, as my son finished his high school years, my daughter moved to New York for the summer – and we added a puppy (see pic below). As a result, I haven’t really stepped away from work for any extended amount of time and not having done so, I was feeling compressed and out of time and energy.
In August, with our whole family together for the first time this summer, we took a week to be at the beach with both dogs in tow. The beach has always been a sacred, spiritual place for me since I was a young girl. I find the water, the tides, and the expansive views to be simultaneously calming and energizing. The experience helps me recognize that there’s a bigger, greater energy in the universe. This energy seems to ground me and expand me at the same time.
While it’s often still busy while vacationing with family, I used the mornings to slow down and think while taking in the natural beauty around me. I used this time to create more spaciousness in myself, and in my thinking about the future.
While relaxing and looking out over the bay, without any specific tasks to accomplish, I was reminded of how much we all need this kind of time and space. It helped me reconnect with what’s important to me in my heart. This quiet, centered approach starkly contrasts with a habit common among many busy professionals and leaders: constantly reacting to the pressures of work and life, and automatically moving to each next task. It restricts our sense of being and our experience.
Instead, during this time, I was able to sense the changes I wanted to make in my life and my business. I’m not sure whether these insights would have risen above the chaos and noise of everyday life, had I not taken time to pause and meditate several days on vacation. I share this with you to reinforce the value and importance of making space in your days and weeks to “be.” And know that I, too, feel the tug of everyday forces that make it hard to create this space.
Take a minute to breathe fully and deeply.
How do you feel? Where do you need more spaciousness in your life? What insights might you catch that otherwise may pass you by? What would it take to give yourself the gift of some spaciousness?