I’m just back from three weeks of work in Europe – speaking at the ICF Romania conference in Bucharest, and then 2 1/2 weeks of teaching and speaking engagements in The Netherlands. Both places, I was talking about and teaching things that are dear to me. Yet it was a packed three weeks with barely any time just for myself. In fact, it’s been a packed two years. Having made the commitment many months ago to write a weekly blog post, as I sit down to honor that commitment, I realize my tank is empty. And furthermore, next on my list after this blog post is to write a newsletter article (he says, gently curious as to what he will find to write about from this empty place!).
Transformational leadership involves co-creating with everything that comes along, including the emptiness. In fact, co-creation was a huge theme that kept showing up in nearly every presentation, workshop, and training on this last trip. And so here I am sitting with “empty” as my co-creative partner of the moment, and reminding myself that “empty” is never actually empty. However, right now, it sure feels like it! And when I pause to sit with this feeling, the first thing that seems to want to be co-created is being ok with feeling empty.
Just “being” in the emptiness, taking a few deep breaths and letting myself feel where I am, a beautiful sense of peace begins to wash over me. With that peace comes a permission to rest. I’ve been in this empty and exhausted place before, and many times it has brought great gifts. When I give myself permission to be empty – to just be still – I can sometimes “get out of the way” even more fully and allow what needs and wants to be said to come through. The key is to not fight being tired, and certainly to not fight being empty. Just be with what is in the moment.
A while back I wrote about “flowing with” instead of “pushing against.” I’m very much settling into a “flow with” place right now as I write. In the flow, I’m finding that several things are possible. First, I can stop stop trying so hard. Second, I know that I will get some much-needed rest in the next few weeks as I have intentionally created a lighter schedule. And third, I’ll trust that what needs to be said in the newsletter article will come through. (It seems that the blog post has just taken care of itself!) My job is to be present, focused, and real. And then trust that something will flow.
I know from experience that, in fact, it will. I just have to trust it. I’ve spent a lifetime studying and creating. And so have you. We have each spent a lifetime learning from our experiences, sometimes flowing with and sometimes pushing against, sometimes succeeding grandly and sometimes not, yet somehow in the end finding what it takes in every situation for the next step.
And so, co-create with everything, even when it seems that there is nothing to co-create with. When “nothing” is what you have, then co-create with the “nothing”, or in my case right now, the “empty.” Even the “nothing” is full of something. Just pay attention, listen, feel, intuit, and take another step. I can do it, and so can you. And in the meantime, it is important to get some rest in the coming days and weeks, or whatever it is you need right now in order to be at your best. Take care of yourself. I’ll do the same. Through the process, it is amazing what can happen.