I have an insightful and wonderful friend who shared this short, powerful story with me.
It’s night. I’m lying in bed. I imagine I’m in a barn. Why a barn? It reminds me of childhood, being around things I love. Horses live here. Dogs live here. It is a calming place. It is one of those big red barns with the huge ceiling, a big sliding door and wide-open floor plan. The floorboards are littered with unwanted, unnecessary things that have accumulated throughout the day. I take out a bent straw broom and sweep the debris from the day away.
I name the things as I sweep apart the pile of chaos and disorder, and keep sweeping. I realize some of the things are just silly to worry about. “That interaction with my coworker? That was a problem? I carried THAT with me all day?” Swish, swish, gone. What is that next thing? The prioritization meeting? Not such a big deal really, I’ll figure it out. Most of that stuff shouldn’t land with my team anyway. Swish, swish, gone. There is a flow, there is a soothing cadence.
As I name and clean, the objects come into clarity. Most can be swept out the door. None have the power to keep me up tonight. Swish, swish, gone.
There. I’m done. Everything is in order, everything back in it’s place. I can sleep now.
Then someone asked me: “Now that you have worked so hard and diligently to identify and sweep out all of your problems, now that you have created some space…
This story activated me to the bone. Hell Yes! This is what Agile Best Self is all about. It is about putting in the work. It is about doing the boring, repetitive, tedious work of cleaning up the inner critic’s mess. Self-care is about taking your power and space back from the inner critic. But the heart of Agile Best Self is about answering the question: “How are you going to fill that hard-won space?“
Copyright © 2018 – 2023 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson
One thought on “How are You Going to Fill that Hard-Won Space?”
I love the simplicity of this story. There are times that we feel victimized and powerless over the events and circumstances of the day — this chaos is fertile ground for the inner critic to not be very helpful. But s/he is just doing their job — trying to protect you.
Here’s the good news. It is possible to learn a new set of habits to help us overcome. Because it is learnable, it is trainable. We don’t have to look far to find out that building a habit of mindfulness can get us much closer. It works just like lifting weights in the gym (or your home gym these days).
Michaele and I both use the “10 Percent Happier” app from Dan Harris. For me, there’s one particular guided exercise by a teacher named Jeff Warren, who is Dan’s co-author of at least one of his books. Jeff’s exercise is called “Flush Your Thoughts” which uses the metaphor of flushing thoughts down the drain, much like the act of sweeping the floor of the barn.
Hope this helps you find a way to make space for more joy and happiness!