White Space: The Swiss Army Knife of High Performance

Sep 08, 2021 1 Min Read
a person standing in the white room
Source:Photo by Guilherme Stecanella https://unsplash.com/photos/EefsBN5B5GE
"White space is like a glass of water that sits on your desk, and you have infinite options of when and where to take a small sip."

The beauty of white space is that it has so many incarnations and applications.

It can be short or long. Deeply enriching or a source of your second wind. It can serve to provide you with calm, spark your creativity, or improve your efficiency.

High achievers know that white space is a tool that will improve their results—and pretty much everything they touch. It’s an intentional stepping back that provides the objectivity required to make better decisions and the space to reboot our exhausted brains.

If we can stop viewing unfilled time as the enemy, we can tap into its significant ability to boost professional excellence.

Now that A Minute to Think is officially out, I’m wrapping up my series of featured excerpts with a look at how one executive, an over-busy guy with many of the same pressures as you, used white space to win. Join him. Join us. We can’t wait to have you.

Short and Long Pauses—adapted from A Minute to Think

A strategic pause for professional enrichment can be an hour noodling on a legal pad; it can be a shared team time of unplanned creativity before a whiteboard, or it can be found in the moments an executive spends looking out over a cityscape silently planning the next five years of their company.

Short interstitial pauses are potent. Like truffles of little weight and enormous worth, these precious ticks of the clock occur between concluding one task and choosing the next. They are found in vital, digestive transition time between meetings. Or in a confident, silent beat of conversation, where the next words to be spoken are crafted.

White space is like a glass of water that sits on your desk, and you have infinite options of when and where to take a small sip.

Deeper, longer uses of the pause are rarer in our seamlessly urgent life, but positively transformative when taken. From a 30-minute thinking block, to an hour of strategy, to an uninterrupted evening, weekend, or vacation, or the granddaddy of white space—an extended professional hiatus. These are great aspirational targets, even if you have to sneak them in occasionally.

Tony Calanca didn’t sneak. I’m not sure he could, as this trade show executive stands 6’8” and is as kind as he is tall. Working in live events, “a business that will eat your life if you let it,” with 80 events per year, the pressure on Tony was always high. In his poignant words, “It's like you reach in and grab the wire and the buzz is going through you and you can't let go.”

A white space believer, Tony had an enormous company-wide negotiation coming up that was worth tens of millions of dollars over the term of the contract. At first, he said to himself, "I'll just SALY it" (Same As Last Year). But then he took a strategic pause and thought, "You know what? I'm not doing that. What I'm going to do is put time onto my calendar to sit and think about this.”

He scheduled 6 sessions for himself ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. His deep dive included targeted research and important conversations with colleagues and partners. Ultimately, he created a collaborative outcome that saved the company millions while meeting or exceeding everyone’s expectations. Not everyone will spend this kind of white space time, but just the intent to pause and think can significantly alter the course of a project.

Get inspired by this media powered by Leaderonomics starring Datuk Lee Chong Wei, wherein he shares his experiences and knowledge:

Hey there, be sure to check out more Leaderonomics media content that ranges in variations to curate the perfect media for you! Get a taste of the rainbow whilst you're still here.

Every wonder how to elevate employee engagement? Well look no further: Happily (or Budaya for those from Indonesia) is an amazing engagement app built for organisation to drive engagement amongst employees. It has amazing analytics and also provides activities for employees to be fully immersed in the organisation's culture and values. To find out more, click here or email info@leaderonomics.com. Check out the media below for a simple tutorial on how to navigate the app!

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  1. A Minute to Think - A book by Juliet Funt
Juliet Funt is the founder and CEO at JFG (Juliet Funt Group), which is a consulting and training firm built upon the popular teaching of CEO Juliet Funt, author of A Minute to Think.

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