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The Gift of Fallow Time

The gift of time set apart. To slow the pace and turn off the constant disruption. To practice the art of reflecting, listening, and connecting with what is possible. To lead from within.

I spent 3 days this past week with twenty-four global managers who are on the rise within their organization. Talented, ambitious, smart - eager for the tips and techniques that will catapult them into an assured sequence of promotions and success.

In other words, a typical professional group.

As part of the workshop, each of them prepare, rehearse, and present a story on the last day. The stories are a mere three minutes and incredibly compelling. The common thread that connected them was the theme of authenticity - of coming to a fuller version of themselves and the importance of “bringing in our heart as well as our mind.” Their words.

They voiced what it was like for them inside to move from a fear of becoming unmoored if they weren’t constantly tethered to real and imagined timelines, and the thought of being cast adrift by their company. That’s what immediately popped up. And then they tasted the liberation, short-lived though it was, of becoming vulnerable and opening themselves to important conversations. Conversations of substance, with each other, and mostly with themselves.

This may not seem like much of an insight until you’re in the midst of all twenty-four of them. You feel the veil lift and the energy shift as they see themselves and one another as whole people. They voiced surprise and delight in the insights they heard emerging from themselves and from their peers. 

And in the debrief, they agreed that what had allowed the transformation was time set aside from deadlines and the obligations that accompany our work. They recognized how stepping back and slowing the usual 24/7 activity had allowed them, in two-and-a-half-days, to gain important insights. For some, it was genuinely life-shifting.  

“We need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible,” Bonnie Tsui writes. “Fallow time is part of the work cycle, not outside of it.”

An age-old truth, ripe for a current-day renaissance.

Lori Brewer Collins