Have you ever noticed that common marks among solid leaders often include reading and the frequent exchange of ideas? I’ve heard it said that “readers are leaders,” which rings true in a variety of industries and applications.
In this vein, two years ago I started what I expect will be a lifelong practice: read a minimum of twelve books plus articles and blogs consistently every year. This year I increased my goal to eighteen books plus articles and blogs, and I am well on pace (a resolution that I can actually believe in!). Of course, the reason to read more is not just to consume as many titles as possible, but to intentionally engage important ideas that hold personal value or application potential for me, as well as for enjoyment in the art of story.
Creating Space is a Life Practice
An insightful writing I came across this week is out of Justin Ahrens‘ book, “Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life.” Ahrens is the Founder and Creative Director for Rule29, a graphic design and branding firm all about Making Creative Matter®. Here’s what he says about creating space and living purposefully:
Most of us are moving so fast that we forget to take a step back (outside of the few vacation days we enjoy). Creating space is a habit. Like becoming a great typographer, it takes practice. Through repetition, recognizing what fits within a certain space and what doesn’t, knowing which areas require adjustments and which are best left alone is all part of recognizing the right fit. To achieve any great kerning result, a designer must look at the letterforms close up, from different angles, upside down, and from a distance. Only then can the right adjustments truly be made. The same is true in life. Understanding where more attention is needed and how to make the correct refinements is an art form — one mastered only with time and practice.In order to purposefully create space, you must give yourself time to step back and consciously think about you. Time to be honest with yourself about how your life is going. Time to look at what is going well, situations that are frustrating you, things you want to change, or ideas you are dreaming about. You can’t allow life to become so busy that you can’t work in some time to step back and assess how your life is going and what may need to be adjusted. And I don’t mean taking vacations (yes, you need those, too) — I mean a purposeful time set aside to look at yourself and your life. Whether it’s 15 minutes per week, a whole day every month, or a couple of times a year, create whatever space necessary to give you enough time to pause and be a student of you.…Early in my marriage, I was telling one of my good friends some of my concerns and fears about my wife and I evolving as individuals and as a couple. He shared with me something he and his wife did yearly that one of his mentors had shared with him. my friend had also married young, and he knew that living on love, even though it makes for a great movie, is not the fuel you can solely depend on. The answer for my friend and his wife was to go on “life retreats” — annual two- to three-day trips dedicated to talking about their marriage, their lives, and their dreams.…The first day, they talk about the details and events of the past year — including the kids, finances, individual goals, friends, vacations, struggles, you name it. The next day they talk about the future. They make plans, create goals, and dream about what life could be like a year from now. The last day they do something fun, as a little treat.