“What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,”
– from “Fire,” by Judy Sorum Brown
It’s a universal truth that no matter how precisely we plan our day, things inevitably work out differently. Today, for example, I thought I’d have some extra time – some space between the logs.
Early on in graduate school, a mentor recommended I never schedule more than 60% of my day. “Don’t fill every spot,” he’d say, “Leave space for the unexpected.” What I’ve come to realize after 20 years of coaching, it is often the things you didn’t plan for that end up leading to more business.
And that’s exactly what happened to me today. Someone emailed and asked for “five minutes” of my time. Now, I know that five minutes never really means five minutes. And I’d really been counting on some downtime today. Yet, that call led to a sale that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Getting on the phone for those few minutes was absolutely the right thing to do.
The danger of being too tied or attached to your plans is that when a really great opportunity shows up, you either don’t have time for it, or your mind is closed because you’re too frustrated about the change to your plans.
If you can get yourself to step back, in that moment between saying yes or saying no to that “interruption,” you might just see that this opportunity is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. It could be something that’s perfect for you and represents what you are trying to make happen in the world and in your business.
Don’t let your initial frustration or complaining mindset show up and hinder that great opportunity. Especially when it comes more subtly. Sometimes it’s not that someone is knocking at your door, but they’re out there in the world on a parallel track, destined to partner with you in some way. In order to recognize these people when you encounter them, you need to be open and willing to set aside your plans.
Most of us who are working from home deal with multiple interruptions and distractions that can alter our plans every day. It’s about finding ways to appreciate those things and recognizing them for what they are – not interruptions but opportunities to appreciate something or someone, or to go in a new direction.
Did your dog just interrupt a Zoom meeting by yipping away in his sleep? Celebrate how cute he is and how lucky you are to be with him during the day. When you step back, it’s nothing to be frustrated about, but a reminder of a good thing in your life.
In a previous post about the transition to full-time coaching, I shared about all the different transitions we may have throughout our career. Yet, each of those would have very much been an interruption to your plans.
Reframing the language here for yourself is so powerful. Instead of interruption, think opportunity. Instead of change, think growth. Instead of scary, think exciting. Instead of annoying, think curious.
How do you greet the interruptions in your workday, and over the years in your career?