Want To Up Your Leadership Game? Make "White Space" A Regular Thing
For 10(ish) years, sandwiched between my health & wellness career, I worked in sales + marketing in the advertising/publishing industry. During this period of time, I learned A LOT about design and creative as it pertains to communicating a message to your audience.
For anyone who is familiar with advertising or design (or frankly, anyone who is a consumer), you know that "white space" is exactly what it sounds like. It is space that is clean, untouched - yet it doesn't have to be white. In the advertising & marketing world, it happens on print or a digital media, ads or websites; it's the blank space on the creative; it can also translate to space in your homes, or other artwork.
What I quickly learned was that many advertisers wanted to get the most out of their ad space. So, they consistently argued to fill that page with everything under the sun, making it look more like an infommercial than a clear, direct message. I know you've seen the messy ads and websites. They contain a lot of elements, shapes, colors and images. So much so that you have a terrible experience and choose to bypass the ad/website altogether.
My point: The best creative, whether on a site or an ad is simple. One clear, direct message.
Now, what does this have to do with you? Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you…
As leaders in your business, work environment and at home you need white space.
Confused already? Let me finish…I promise this will make sense.
White space, in our lives, looks like alone time. Solitude. Time that is meant for you to disconnect, to escape the clutter and chaos that is so dang similar to a website or ad that looks like an infomercial. Except instead of shapes and colors, our chaos comes in the form of text messages, calls, emails, meetings, television, social media, and on and on.
So my question is, as a busy doctor, lawyer, business executive…how do you escape the constant flurry in order to be alone with your own thoughts?
How do you schedule white space so that you can gain clarity and process everything so you can be a leader who has a vision rather than a leader who is swimming in clutter?
I’ll give you a few hints, because it isn’t that complicated - though making the time for it can be.
For me, my white space is and always has been hitting the pavement with my running shoes. This is not only where I go to clear my head and destress, it’s also where some of my most clarifying moments occur. It’s where I go when I’m struggling with a particular problem (or internal question), have a creative block, need to have a tough conversation with someone (and need to flesh out what I’ll say), or have a business decision to make.
When I exercise, typically I don’t consciously think about the things I need to address, but ideas or thoughts will surface during or soon after.
Simply put, the open road is my office. But I also enjoy a good yoga session or just some alone time with a glass of wine.
White space does not have to come in the form of exercise. It can be back porch sitting, meditation, closing your office door and disconnecting from everything for 20 minutes, or eating a quiet meal alone. (I’d like to point out that technology is excluded during this time.) I know, I know…it’s so hard…
…and SO DAMN NECESSARY.
When we think about being a leader, in any capacity, the reality is that the new wave of technology makes everyone so much more accessible. This means that as leaders/entrepreneurs, time becomes limited and it’s our job to put up boundaries so that we don’t find ourselves lacking creativity, clarity and purpose.
You need that white space in order to provide yourself with the time to think/prepare/make decisions. Work on yourself.
And let’s be honest, some of you aren’t going to do it unless you put it in your calendar. Block out that time. Call it a “white space meeting”. I don’t care. Do it.
If you want to be able to process information, gain clarity and make good judgment - make a conscious choice to block out the noise on a regular basis. And the added bonus...much like the creative "white space" I discussed, implementing this into your life will make everyones experience with you that much better.
Make solitude a part of your routine. I dare you.
How will you choose to create white space so you can show up better tomorrow with resilience, power and grace?