Category: Living

We All Need a Little Blank Space

Designers have a solution for our crazed and overwhelming work schedules: blank space. In design, “blank space,” or negative space, is the purposeful contrast to the art that’s within the piece. Aimed to balance the color, shapes, or movement in design, blank space creates Intention and order — both elements we could use a little more of in our day-to-day lives. So how might this be applied to our schedules? Adding blank space, or intentional empty periods of time into our schedules, can increase our creativity, happiness, and productivity. The unstructured time can be used to do things such as sitting quietly, sitting outside in nature, drawing, meditating, going for a walk, doing a mini-workout, or taking a power nap. This reset for our brains, while seemingly against our traditional ways of thinking about productivity, allows for flow and balance to guide our week instead of dysfunction and stress.

Consider scheduling a meeting this week, and surprise everyone with one to five minutes of “blank space.” Or put 10 minutes of “blank space” on your team’s calendar. Discuss with team members how they feel when they are suddenly gifted with time to Be.

The Art of Doing Nothing

Is there something in doing nothing? In Jenny Odell’s book “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy”  and this companion piece, Odell shares her insights and lessons in the importance of having a place to escape from work –a place to sit, Be, and dream. For her, doing “’Nothing’ is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech.”   Odell meanders eloquently through so many beautiful examples of Being. Depictions of art where elements within a picture are removed to reveal a new story. Spaces like labyrinths or a window to the sky inviting guests to pause, slow down and simply Be. She reminds us of green environments like gardens and parks and public buildings where we become “citizens with agency” and yet are often not seen as commercially important even though they provide so much value.  Even noticing birds helps us pay deep attention to the world around us and who we are Being in this world. We often don’t give ourselves the time and space to escape and yet what healing or new possibilities might emerge if we did?


Intro to Being

Welcome to the principle of Being—the third and final LIVING principle. That’s right, an entire month devoted to exploring what it means to just be. It’s that simple.

Instead of focusing on what we are doing, what if we focus on who we are Being.

Being kind. Being encouraging. Being genuine. Being hopeful. Being present.

After all, we are human beings not human doings. So, take a deep breath. It’s time to be present and take it all in. Enjoy.


“Being” In Action

When entrepreneur Kevin Kruse set out to learn the secrets to success of 200 of the most productive individuals in the US, more than half of their rules of engagement tied back to Being. While you may be thinking that “Being” is passive, think again. It’s a practice that must be put into action. From using a notebook to living your day “minute by minute,” the practices that make up what it means “to be” are also practices that increase how much you accomplish and how fulfilled you feel by your accomplishments.

Select one of the 15 practices from Kruse’s piece to introduce into your day. Set an Intention to continue this practice regularly for three work weeks. After the three-week experiment, reflect back on the weeks and see what you gained from adopting a new way to be in the workplace. Introduce the idea to your team members.

Are You LIVING for Your Resume or Your Eulogy?

New York Times columnist and deep thinker David Brooks compels us to think about who we really are in this inspiring TED Talk. Brooks proposes that there are two selves within us: the one we can define by our resume and the one we can define by our eulogy. While one is mired with titles, successes, creation, and the climbing of ladders, the other is filled with stories of love, heartbreak, selflessness, and values. We don’t have to choose one or the other— we are intrinsically both.

After watching David reflect on these two selves in his sub-five-minute TED Talk, pick up a copy of his book, The Road to Character, to delve deeper into all of these issues.

This time of pandemic is filled with life’s big questions and unexpected and unimaginable loss. How might we make time with our team members for the big questions—pondering and discussing what matters most?

Go With Your Flow

Have you ever felt like you were firing on all cylinders, totally immersed and almost in a state of ecstasy, so much so that you even lost track of time? Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines this as Being in a “state of flow” and at one’s peak productivity and creativity. Csikszentmihalyi argues that achieving flow every day is the key to happiness and that it is totally achievable if you follow a few simple steps. Using the scientific rationale that our nervous system can only process up to 110 bits of information per second and that listening to someone speak requires at least 60 bits, he explains why it is impossible to listen to two people at once – and why when we are in a flow state, fully productive and creative, we almost lose track of everything else. It takes a level of skill and concentration to reach the state of flow, and it is all encompassing.

We are lucky to work in an industry where we are greeted with opportunities for productivity every single day. This means we each have the opportunity to achieve a flow state every day. Try following Csikszentmihalyi’s steps to find flow state. The essence of this article is: Find a challenge, develop your skills in order to be able to meet that challenge, set clear goals, focus completely on the task at hand, make sure you’ve set aside sufficient time, and monitor your emotional state. See what happens when you go for your flow.

What activity, personal or professional, brings you to your state of flow? Describe how you feel when performing this activity. How might we incorporate this behavior into our everyday so that the positive effects of flow can permeate our work?

Storytelling Exemplars

It’s been a wonderful month devoted to the art, practice, and power of Storytelling. We hope that you are inspired to assess what your organization’s story is today, collect stories tomorrow, and imagine the  positive changes will permeate within your future story as a result. This week we explore how elements as small as words – as menial as filling prescriptions, and as meaningful as implicit biases – can shape the stories that are being told about our Experiences.


Code Words Create Action

When we intentionally employ a different lexicon, it sparks change.  A small pub in Acworth, Georgia called Red Top Brewhouse choosing to lead the way in curbing sexual harassment by creating clear code words for any guest could use if they feel they are in an uncomfortable situation.  The message is posted inside all the restrooms and provides instructions for what to do.  While rarely used, these are meaningful words that empower change.

When a server or team member hears the phrase, they take action to keep the guest safe. This simple process provides safety to their guests and has changed the overall atmosphere of the brewhouse.

Other bars across the country are also employing secret safety lexicon – some creating a “bar menu” with code words that helps a guest  in fear share their concerns easily. Many call them “Angel Shots”

Angel Shot Neat – means the bartender will arrange for the guest to be escorted safely to their car.

Angel Shot With Ice – signals the bartender to arrange a ride for the guest.

Angel Shot With Lime – instructs the bartender to call the police.  

What lexicon, words or phrases might we need to create, design anew, or even leave behind to empower change and action in our organization?

Too Short a Story?

“There’s a bus coming in. A gork in two. Intermittent CP with SOB in five. And a soft tissue contusion below the fourth thoracic vertabrae in three.” Huh?

Like many industries, health care is filled with jargon and lexicon. Codes, acronyms, or difficult to follow medical language can prevent our team members, patients, and guests from fully dedicating themselves to our organization’s story, merely because they don’t understand. Jargon can alienate patients and guests who are often afraid to speak up and ask for explanations. Adorably exemplified in this Fast Company video, it doesn’t matter how old (or what kind of Muppet) you are, jargon is confusing and isolating.

While it’s easy for us to tell our team members not to use jargon, what’s more important is to be sure that every team member, provider, patient, and guest understands the conversation occurring around them. By narrating our Experience we ensure others understand what’s happening to, for, and around them.

Tell My Story

Even when we don’t see people, we’re often writing their story in our heads, making assumptions and creating a mental image. So what might we be missing out on? Our friends at Soul Pancake explore this mind-opening concept in their powerful video series, Tell My Story. Participants discover the pitfalls of assumptions and how their own biases are tough to avoid. While we’re all on our organizational missions to weave a positive and memorable story for our team members, providers, patients, and guests, we must remember that each one of these individuals is also creating and telling their own story. Assumptions, biases, and misunderstandings all impact the story we tell ourselves about caretakers, patients, clinic managers, billing specialists, environmental service team members, and…everyone.

Are we tuned into the assumptions, biases, and misunderstandings taking place throughout our organization? What are the impacts of these assumptions? How might we increase our ability to gather the real story and reduce our use of judgment, bias, and assumption?