Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Gladwell’

Ahhh…white space. Getting any?

January 13, 2008

One of the things I love about weekends and holidays (especially the seasonal break just past) is that I get to carve out some “white space” for myself….some time that is unscheduled and simply there for me to chill, reflect, relax….or whatever else comes up that I choose.  In Dec/early January I had two weeks of it! And while I don’t always get to have those large chunks of time off, I do I try to carve bits of white space throughout my week  (albeit not always easy to do) …i.e. my morning coffee ritual is a ‘white space moment’ for me…I simply sit and enjoy my coffee and let my mind unfold….wake up….slowly. No papers, work, nada. Just me and my coffee.  To some extent, my morning runs also provide some ‘white space’…just me, the road and my mind.

It’s these moments that I often get my most creative, ‘out of the blue’, ideas….and often my best solutions to challenges that I’ve been dealing with. It’s when I’m not ‘working’ in a traditional sense that the ‘gems’ of insight come to me. It’s also these moments that I get to reflect and remember who I am and what it’s (the work) all about. Those bits of time ground me which is essential given the hectic pace of my worklife.

Most of us find ourselves on a treadmill of work that keeps us in busy mode…doing, doing with very little little time for reflection. I often hear people complain that they have no time to think. Even their work suffers because they don’t have the luxury of time to truly reflect and be as creative and innovative as they can. They are expected to generate breakthrough ideas/solutions/etc….but with no time to really think…..sigh.

Sound familiar??? Rush, rush….do, do….race from one meeting/task/assignment…to the next. White space? Nice idea…but too busy?  And for some of us…some feelings of guilt associated with ‘chilling out’. 

White space.

It’s good for you.

And it’s good for your work (and your employers, and  your clients…and any one else you interact with).

In an earlier post, I referenced a quote from Malcolm Gladwell who said in a Globe and Mail article that the mental demands of the workplace are steadily growing — and we’re all going to have to smarten up if we want to succeed: “I’m quite prepared for the possibility that the next revolution is not going to come from a machine…’s going to come from creating a more thoughtful work force and giving people the opportunity to be thoughtful.”

Opportunity to be thoughtful….hmmm…..white space gives that opportunity to be more thoughtful.

Ya think? Well, others do as well….

Debbie Weil wrote on her blog (called “Blogwrite for CEOs“) a post “Where is your white space for getting real work done” (real work as in creative thinking, reflecting, etc.)?

She points to an interesting article in the New York Times titled: You Won’t Find Me in My Office, I’m Working


What does white space look like to you?

How much of it are you getting these days?

What can you do to carve out some for yourself…not just ‘now’ but on a regular basis?

If big chunks of time aren’t feasible right now, what can you do with small bits (white space can be powerful even in small doses)?

If you manage others or employ others – how are you doing in terms of supporting their need for white space — in service of inspiring their creativity?

What assumptions are you holding that you might want to challenge about being ‘busy’?

Now….I’d write some more but it’s Sunday and I feel a white space moment beckoning me.

Till next time,


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Speaking of Emotional Intelligence…

October 1, 2007

…which is what I was doing a little over a week ago at a conference for an organization called Extendicare. I spoke to a group of about a hundred dietary managers and program managers about navigating one’s work-life (and personal life) with emotional intelligence. This was connected to the concept of TGIM (thank goodness it’s Monday….or any other day of the week)…i.e. about being engaged with your work and dealing with the hurdles, the challenges, the ambiguity….no small feat!

I had a chance to meet with many of the participants before the presentation. As I walked around the room introducing myself, I asked people “how’s your work-life?” 

Nine out of 10 responses said the very same thing – literally in one word: “BUSY!!” It was as if they had rehearsed it! This particular group has been experiencing tremendous change over the past few years: new demands; more pressure; not enough time……yada, yada.

 Sound familiar? No matter what profession it seems this is true for anyone working these days….managing heavier workloads; faster paces; ambiguity…..and doing double duty with responsibilities in your home and personal life.

Work is getting harder. And it’s not likely to let up.

Ask Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of ‘Blink’ and ‘The Tipping Point’….or pick up a copy of today’s Globe and Mail. In an interview with a reporter from Report on Business, Gladwell says if you feel work is getting harder, you are not imagining it. The mental demands of the workplace are steadily growing — and we’re all going to have to smarten up if we want to succeed. As well, he said: “I’m quite prepared for the possibility that the next revolution is not going to come from a machine…’s going to come from creating a more thoughtful work force and giving people the opportunity to be thoughtful.”

Hmmmm. Sounds very ‘EQ-ish’. I fully agree that takes a whole bunch of smarts to cope with the demands and complexity of work (and life) today. Technical work smarts are important (and will always be) but they won’t be enough.  There’s a plethora of skills associated with social, interpersonal and emotional demands of today’s worklives. Fluency in these areas will be key indicators of one’ potential to cope and/or thrive as work (and life) gets harder.

Think this is just about soft skills? Think again….

Problem solving. Interpersonal skills. Self management. Resilience. Optimism. Empathy. Flexibility, social responsibility….and much more.

These are just a few areas within EQ that will need to be shored up in individuals and workplaces to cope, compete and survive work as work-life gets tougher, harder, faster…..

And the good news is these skills can be developed. EQ can be measured….and it is coachable. Smart companies will consider that in their leadership development, training and overall ‘people development’ programs. Yes, I know that is a self serving message given my line of work is very tied to EQ coaching (I coach leaders –of varying levels – and organizations on success and engagement issues)….but I truly believe it to be true.

I know in my own personal experiencing navigating my work-life (and personal life) that so much of my own growth and resilience has come from developing the EQ side of things.

Want to hear more, read more? For starters, see my article on EQ at Work in the “In the News” page of this blog; and get in touch with me if you are curious about how to measure and develop your own EQ and/or that of those you work with.

For now, let me leave you with a question or two: 

What is your workplace doing to support the development of more emotionally intelligence workforce? What are you doing individually to develop your own EQ? What difference would it make if those  you worked for and/or with had more EQ skills? What would it be like to navigate your work-life with more ease, joy and peace?

Comments always welcome….in the meantime, to a TGIM work-life…with EQ!


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