Sacred: devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose); entitled to reverence and respect (excerpted from Merriam-Webster dictionary).
As you get busy with the start of a new year, a new quarter, a promotion, or life and work in general, it’s vital to consider honoring sacred space for yourself and those around you.
Although there might be the fading echoes of holiday joy in the air, there is also tension and a buildup of stress with everything that’s beckoning to be done in 2013. When you get distracted with the urgency of all you need to get done, it can show in your ability to be the best leader you can possibly be.
So, consider slowing down enough to honor yourself and those who follow you. Begin this new year with a way to revere and respect others. Observe those times that are calling you to be fully present in order to deepen relationships within the sacred space you’ve created.
Take a deep breath (it’s amazing what a little extra oxygen can do), and consider how you can devote some time for yourself or others in ways that make the space you occupy (alone or together with others) sacred.
Begin with a few dedicated minutes before you begin your workday to get organized and set your intentions. Even though there is a temptation to be pulled into the urgent, stay true to five or 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to visualize the flow of your day, prioritize what needs to be done, and decide who you need to communicate with (make a list). Avoid distraction; let others know you can’t be disturbed, turn off your e-mail alerts and close your door, if you have one. It’s a great discipline to create this early morning personal space that will help you to be at your best every day.
Take time to think rather than just react. Having a long-term vision for your organization and your leadership requires concentrated, extended thinking time to provide a foundation for planning. Regularly sorting through your “to-dos” and deciding which of them you can say “no” to, delegating, and prioritizing whatever else needs to be done is necessary for allowing you to focus your energy on what matters most. Block out time on your calendar weekly, and use it to think through these important things. Resist allowing urgent matters to interfere with this sacred time.
Notice when someone needs your ear instead of hustling off to do whatever is next or talking at them. Put away diversions (i.e., the cellphone), turn and face those you talk to. Look them in the eye and listen deeper than you ever have. You might find that you really don’t need to say much at all. Consider asking clarifying questions instead of giving your opinions. Don’t judge — it’ll only make the space less sacred and make others less willing to say what’s on their mind. Don’t give advice — ask them questions that will help them to find their own answers.
Make dialog a part of every team meeting. Instead of doing all of the talking to your team, invite them into conversation with wide-open questions, your curiosity and your best listening. You don’t need to have all the answers — just the right attitude and some great questions, which you can formulate during your personal sacred time. Some examples:
- What are we doing well?
- What can we do to foster our best teamwork?
- How can I encourage excellence from you and the rest of our organization?
The best leaders recognize the importance of keeping sacred space in their leadership. When will you begin to assure you have dedicated sacred space for yourself and your followers?
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive coach and a recovering corporate executive who has spent the past 10 years as president of Aspire Collaborative Services, an executive-coaching firm that manages large-scale corporate-coaching initiatives and coaches leaders to prepare them for bigger and better things.