Leadership and the Necessity of Empty Spaces

Empty space is essential to the structure of the Universe.
And to the practice of leadership.
Here’s why…

According to a recent article in the NY Times, an experiment spanning half a century and more than $750 million verifies that “empty space in the vicinity of the Earth is turning.” This landmark project known as Gravity Probe B substantiates Einstein’s theory of gravity and general relativity, as reported by the Stanford University team leading it.

Even the smallest piece of solid matter is comprised of vast distances between the atoms compared to their size. However we may perceive it, the structure of our world includes enormous quantities of empty space. I don’t pretend to understand it all; I assume a posture of amazement and wonder.

Empty space is not only an element of our physical world. It transcends the physical into the realm of time and human experience. We fill our calendars with meetings. We fill our lives with activity. We fill our organizations with productivity. Generally speaking we strive to fill up time and space in our lives. We say our lives are “full”. What place, if any, is there for emptiness?

Whether it’s turning, spinning, disappearing, or just plain hanging there, the space in our lives seems to be more and more elusive. Or discomforting, when we stumble upon it. Many of us live with a fear of emptiness. As soon as we feel it, we fill it.

But “space” holds everything together, according to physicists. Leaders need to open up space not just fill it up. It can be as simple as calling a “time-out” in the middle of an intense, jam-packed, meeting agenda. Or exercising leadership by stepping outside and walking around the building once, as one client reported doing, before making a difficult and controversial decision.

Empty space is essential to the creative process and the very vitality of life itself. We too are part of the Universe.

More to come…