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Why we need to create space to think

The failure to create space to think can cripple our ability to perform well and succeed. In the second of our series, we examine how to create space to think

Create space to think

In our previous article about his book Create Space: How to Manage Time, and Find Focus, Productivity and Success, leadership consultant and business psychologist Derek Draper developed a model based around four overarching dimensions: space to think; space to connect; space to do and space to be.

The first of these – the need to create the space to think – is about having the intellectual and psychic freedom to think in a deep way about ourselves  and the world. The thinking we do, the ideas we have and the decisions we make are the prerequisites for taking effective action – and in order to deliberate properly we need to have some dedicated time and a clear mind.

If we rush, or try to think in a pressured, distracted environment, the quality of our reasoning will suffer. We won’t come up with the best ideas, we won’t have fully thought things through and we’ll make poor decisions.

Many of us don’t feel we have the time and space to do the deeper contemplation that our complex, high-responsibility jobs require

To stop and think effectively in a busy world is something that many of us simply fail to do. Many of us don’t feel we have the time and space to do the deeper contemplation that our complex, high-responsibility jobs require – we need to address three elements to create the space for such high-quality thinking:

1.  Create Space to Reflect
To be able to mull things over and test our conclusions is not a luxury. We need to do this before we make decisions and afterwards, so that we can constantly improve the quality of our thinking. While we feel a pressure to act quickly, to do so short-circuits the examination that is required before deciding what to do next.

2. Create Space to Learn
In a world of uncertainty, change and endless innovation, we can’t rely on what we already know. We need to learn new things and make new intellectual connections. We don’t want to look foolish or make ourselves vulnerable, so we fail to learn the things that are required for success in our new role.

3. Create Space to Decide
We must eventually let our reflections and learning inform a clear goal that we are going to aim for. This requires a deep understanding of the business context we operate in and the resources at our disposal. To decide is the act of turning your internal thoughts into an action that will impact on the external world. Sometimes we don’t have the confidence or feel the inner freedom to take this final, crucial step.

The failure to create space to think can cripple our ability to perform well and succeed. To be able to do so gives us a greater understanding of ourselves and the world, and we feel more certain of our opinions and decisions. In short, our minds are opened up, rather than being prematurely closed down. The depth, breadth and quality of our thinking improves and that becomes visible for all to see.

Derek Draper launched his book Create Space: How to Manage Time, and Find Focus, Productivity and Success at a launch event in conjunection with ThePeopleSpace on Thursday 6 September.

Published 25 July 2018, updated 10 September 2018

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