I got caught for speeding recently. It wasn’t like I was doing 140miles an hour. It was 34 miles an hour in a 30mile an hour speed limit. It seemed a bit unfair compared to the speedy Gonzales on the motorways and I was grateful to be offered the option of a Speed Awareness Course rather than be awarded the customary three points on my licence.
So I pay my £90 and I turn up for the course…. and to my surprise and delight, I receive an inspirational lesson on the power of “creating space”. You see, the reason for my speeding offence was that I was in a rush to get somewhere. I was impatient with people who kept religiously to the speed limit …surely rules are there to be at least flexed? My life was busy. I had so many things to get on and do. I needed to get from A to B as quickly as possible so that I can get on with the next thing to do as fast as possible. My life was a race. No time for a rest: things to do; people to see; roads to travel as fast as possible. My driving simply reflected the way that I was living my life …and it was exhausting.
Fortunately the speed camera had caught up with me and I was obliged to take six whole hours out of my busy schedule. And in that space, I received the inspiration I needed in order to slow down and really start living my life.
Have you ever been driving along a road, only to be hassled by the driver behind you who wants you to go faster? Well, I was at times that driver. At other times, when I felt the impatience of the driver behind me, I would feel hurded into going faster against my better judgement, or I would touch the brakes to teach them a lesson. Instead of being one of the crowd, my course instructor inspired me to step up and to become a leader on the roads. By keeping to the speed limit and by keeping a large space between me and the car ahead, I am now leading the traffic behind me and inspiring them to stay within the speed limit. I become the leader. The speed limits are there for a reason. In fact most speed limits are as a direct result of a tragic accident occurring on the road. Staying within speed limits saves lives.
In creating space between my car and the car ahead, I also gain better vision. I can see what’s happening ahead so much more clearly. I can see the pedestrian who is about to step out into the road or the motorbike about to exit a side street ahead. When my nose is too close to the bumper ahead, my vision is limited. I can become entranced by the vehicle in front of me to the extent that I lose any sense of personal responsibility as I blindly follow their lead.
In life, we need personal space to see clearly. We need to take time out to step back at look at our vision from a clear perspective. If we become too attached to what is immediately ahead of us, we risk missing out on the bigger picture. Even worse, we might not see something important until it comes out of that side road and hits us. Clearing space becomes an essential element in being all we can be.
How do you create space in your life so that you benefit from clear vision? Some people use meditation or yoga. Others escape to the gym. Making time to play with your children is a wonderful choice. Philip Day, health journalist, advocates taking a one month holiday every year. I love to lose myself in a book, or to get out on my bike, or to make time to chat with an old friend. Following the driving course however, I now realize that I can create space much more often that I ever imagined. Every time I drive and there are other people on the road, I now have an opportunity to practice slowing down in order to create some space, and to benefit from clearer vision. With clearer vision, I make faster and safer progress.
Transferring these principles to my daily work life has been liberating. I now apply more discipline in my daily schedule and more focus in completing daily tasks. Rather than trying to “run a race” each day, ticking off “to do” items at break neck speed and feeling exhausted by the end of each caffeine infested day, I can relax and enjoy my time. I can sit back and take a better perspective. I can see what is really important and what is just keeping me busy. Taking things slower and with more consciousness opens up more possibilities. Just as the silence between each beat of a drum is what makes it melodic, so the space between daily tasks makes room for inspiration. And it is inspiration that plants new growth. It is inspiration that will transform your business. Blindly following the car in front of you or what others in your industry are doing will not make you a leader. Follow the guidance of my amazing driving instructor: slow down and create some space between you and the next person, and you will benefit from clearer vision.
From this new vantage point you are in a much better position to take inspired action. Inspired action means coming from a place of possibility rather than habit. As Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker, reminds us “If you always do what you,ve always done , you will always get what you have always gotten”. Taking a new perspective on your business and your team, what can you do differently that will enhance your business tomorrow? Follow Richard Branson’s example and carry a notebook with you always so that you can capture those inspirational ideas as they come and then turn them into actions. Be receptive to a facilitator who can guide you and help you to see things differently. It may be a coach, a business mentor, a friend or even a driving instructor! It may be a training course or a new investment. Give yourself the space to listen and to follow your heart. Be open to all new inspiration wherever it may come from…and then act on it!
Inspiration without action is in my view a criminal offence. Think of the person who tells everyone that they had the idea first, before Oprah or Duncan Bannatyne or Philip Green made it successful. If you have an idea, you have the potential within you to make it happen. Simply take one step at a time, starting with the first step. For example, If you want to write a book, start with writing an outline of why you want to write the book or who you want to help by writing the book. Start writing the book and remember that you don’t have to start at Chapter One. You can start wherever you feel inspired to start writing. It is your book. Invite a facilitator, a friend or a book coach to keep you on track and to gain a different perspective on your work.
If your business is feeling stagnant, invite in a new approach. Engage a business mentor or coach and stay open to what they have to share with you. Create space in your diary to listen to new ideas. As holder of two business degrees and with a wealth of business experience behind me, I had fallen easily into the rut of thinking that I knew all the answers. Fortunately a colleague of mine introduced me to a business mentor recently and I cleared three hours out of my day for a meeting with him. As a result I benefited from a fresh perspective on my business which helped me enormously. Who could provide a fresh perspective on your business? Decide now to invest in a fresh pair of eyes on your business and stay open minded to all suggestions.
When we cast aside our preconceptions and prejudices we create a space for new possibilities. This is where you can find your break through in performance levels.