This exercise is part of a series originally shared on Gather the Courage, guided journaling for creative leaders to reflect, be encouraged, and make courageous decisions.
During the best of times, it’s hard to carve out time and mental space for big picture creative thinking. Right now, with fresh news of this global pandemic breaking every minute, it’s been even harder. (Why is it so hard to put down the phone when there are scary things happening?)
Gather the Courage is meant to help you, as leaders, creators, and entrepreneurs of all stripes, make the space for the kind of thinking that will not only get us through this, but will make our world even better on the other side.
Take care of yourself, and each other,
Your friends at &yet
We’re starting small, with just one 12-minute exercise. Grab a notebook, a pen, and your headphones. You can use your laptop if distraction is not an issue for you.
When you’re ready, press play.
Let’s begin by settling into your space. Take a few deep breaths and find something to appreciate about the way you’re supported right now. Maybe you have a comfortable seat or a beautiful view. Maybe the sun is shining or you’ve got your favorite pen in your hand. Whatever it is, breathe deeply as you take a moment to appreciate it.
If you’re having a particularly tough day and are struggling to find something to appreciate, that’s okay. On days like that for me, it’s enough to know that I’m trying.
Now that you’ve settled in, let’s set our purpose for this time you’ve set aside today. As I’m recording this, we’re all undergoing a massive shift as we figure out how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a leader, this is impacting you in a unique way. Plans you may have been working on for months may seem irrelevant now. Your entire industry may be disrupted. You may be trying to determine what the right course of action is, even though you can’t know what will happen in the coming days, weeks, and months.
It may feel urgent to figure out all the answers right now. But for today, my intention is to walk you through an exercise in spaciousness. For me, spaciousness is the feeling that I have all the time I need to do what needs to be done, no matter what is going on around me.
What does spaciousness look like for you? Is it a feeling that no one is rushing you? Is it a feeling that no one expects anything from you right this minute? As you think about what spaciousness looks like for you, write down whatever comes to mind, even if it’s “I have no idea.”
As you’re writing, let’s start to think about ways you might be able to give yourself that spaciousness. Maybe you can manage other people’s expectations. Maybe you need to cancel some meetings to give yourself uninterrupted time. Maybe you need to take off the pressure entirely and take a day off, or even a few hours. How might you give yourself spaciousness? Or if you don’t know, write about why it’s hard for you. I’ll be back in a few minutes to check in.
If that was more challenging, it’s okay. It’s all learning. In fact, our feelings can be important clues to what we need. For the last few minutes of our time together, think about what you’re feeling around this concept. Is there a particular idea that excites you? Does some part of you feel resistant to the idea of spaciousness? What might those feelings be telling you? Take just a few minutes to write it down.
How’s it going? You may still be writing, and if that’s the case, feel free to hit pause and come back when you’re ready. If you’re finished, I want to encourage you to take this idea of spaciousness with you today as you’re thinking through possibilities and making decisions. Do what you can to give yourself what you need to feel like you have the time and space necessary to do what needs to be done.
Spaciousness is a quality that brings down anxiety levels, not just in you, but in everyone around you. In that way, you giving yourself spaciousness is a gift to all of us.
Check out the next Gather the Courage exercise: Groundedness.