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2006: Issue 21

Open Spaces

Fall is officially here….the mornings are cool; the air is crisp; the dew is heavy; the days are shorter; and the trees are transforming to various shades of red, yellow, orange, with some, simply staying “evergreen.” I love watching Mill Mountain out my office window, seeing the colors gradually progress, sweeping the mountain from top to bottom.

I hope you have noticed…perhaps your drive to work has been more pleasurable because of the beautiful fall colors; or maybe it’s your window view that is now much more colorful with vibrant reds and yellows. And then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed, because like so many of us, you are doing something every waking minute and scrambling to get it all done.….talking on the cell phone while driving to work; proceeding into your office, saying the usual good morning pleasantries only to head straight for the computer to check email, finding yourself not looking up or out again until lunch – oh yea, what lunch? The picture is bleak, as is the result.

True confession. Until today, I had not really noticed the landscape changes on Mill Mountain for I have been in the “closed space” mode for the past couple of weeks. Going from one project to another, one appointment to another, endeavoring to stay on time and meet deadlines, and striving to honor my commitment to my husband and son. The result, my “left brain” has been working overtime; my “right brain” has been idling……waiting for that open space time to design, discover, explore possibilities, and create.

The full engagement of my left brain has made it possible for me to get things done, and a reminder of how I used to be, routinely and continually….as well as a reminder of the not-so-good consequences over the long term. Borrowing from author Daniel Pink’s words in A Whole New Mind, without the engagement of my brain’s right hemisphere, I am unable to see the big picture and to synthesize information. I am seeing the details, putting them in order, and finding the single answer, but am at risk of missing the context.

Daniel Pink contends that the success of our country in this age of a global economy is dependent on the active engagement of our brain’s right hemisphere, and the recognition that it is as important and valuable as the ability of our left hemisphere in getting it done. He has further identified six aptitudes for us to cultivate and acquire: design; story; symphony; empathy, play and meaning in order to balance our left brain directed thinking.

In the next edition, I will give these aptitudes some life and breath. But the first step is to commit to creating some “open space”….physically, mentally and emotionally.

Not long ago I introduced to a client the concept of creating “open space”. She lamented that she has too much to do to let her mind wander or to explore what might or could be. Like many clients, living in her “closed space” had sapped her of her dreams. From most people’s perspectives she was very successful as she was accomplishing a lot, and her results were superior,….but she had lost sight of the bigger picture.

As we proceeded with the coaching, she was able to identify some benefits to her, her family, and her employees if she would commit to finding some “open space” time – the opportunity to individually and collectively explore, discuss, and create. She began by cleaning up her physical space, creating some “open space”, and asking her employees to do the same. She then decided that every evening she would give herself 15 minutes to quiet her “left brain”, and engage her “right brain”. Seeing the benefit of doing so, she brought that into her staff meetings, and now places priority on the time spent in what she terms “open space” discussion. The benefit: work is still getting done; the daily crises’ have lessened; people are working together because they have co-created the space – mentally, emotionally, and physically.


What changes can you make to your physical environment to create “open spaces”?
What can you stop doing to make more room for time to explore, create, and identify possibilities, to engage your brain’s right hemisphere?
What amount of time are you willing to dedicate each day to “open space” thinking and dialogue?

Founded in 2003 and based in Roanoke, Virginia, Extra Ordinary Living works with individuals, organizations and teams to identify possibilities, create opportunities, remove obstacles and through deliberate action, optimize results.

Usually the first question we are asked, is why Tiberius? Our trivia friends can often identify the references……yes, Tiberius was the 2nd Roman emperor, and yes, Tiberius is the middle name of James T. Kirk from Star Trek. One of our life mottos and business principles is “to learn from the past, look to the future while living in the present.” Thus, Extra Ordinary Living.

As Professional Coaches, we are trained to listen, to observe and to customize our approach to our clients needs.  We provide tools, support, structure and accountability to help our clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.  The best thing about coaching is it is all about you – the client, and what you want.  We may share our opinions and give you advice, but it is up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept.  We suspend judgment and will support you in your decisions. 

As Professional Speakers, our messages are inspirational while imparting useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to help our audiences live  extra ordinary lives.  

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
– Joseph Campbell

Janet Crawford, MHA, MBA
Professional Certified Coach

A publication of Extra Ordinary Living,  Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals striving to make a difference, and wanting to explore, experience and excel in all aspects of their life.

"The key to success is to risk thinking unconventional thoughts. Convention is the enemy of progress. As long as you have slightly more perception than the average wrapped loaf, you could invent something.”
– Trevor Baylis

“Design correctly harnessed can enhance life, create jobs, and make people happy – not such a bad thing.”
– Paul Smith


On October 27th, Janet will be working with the staff of the Virginia Healthcare Foundation, Understanding Ourselves and Others, to optimize our performance.