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A Blank Slate

A blank slate… what comes to mind?  Do you think of emptiness or perhaps a lot of work, or does a blank slate energize you with opportunity and creativity?  We often associate a blank slate with starting over, so perhaps your initial thoughts may be based on whether or not you want  a fresh start, or believe you have the energy and ability to change when things aren’t working for you.

I recently had a client who was struggling with productivity and work/life balance, and she was burning out quickly – Insomnia, weight gain, and high blood pressure were just a few of her physical symptoms. Her team was losing credibility in her ability to give direction and provide reliable information. Missed deadlines and unhappy clients eventually led to requests to remove this star player from a high profile account – she hit the breaking point. Last year’s results placed her at the top of her performance rating, and she hoped for more advancement in the organization.  How could a successful leader find herself in this place? She needed to wipe the slate clean and look at ways she could make some different choices.

One of my favorite quotes is by Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It speaks to me because so often, it’s not others or the situation that changes, but it’s me that begins to see myself differently. What’s the story supporting me?  How do I reinforce my own beliefs and assumptions with my actions?  If I am still, could I begin to see myself in a different place? What could that look like?  And sometimes, the blank slate is scary, and it takes courage to write a new path.

My client’s new path included seeing herself as strong and capable when she asked for help and erasing the belief that not doing it all was a sign of weakness.  It also included clearer lines about her capacity, and indeed, there were mountains high enough (too high!) for her to scale alone.  Over time, she began to create new ways to define success and productivity which included how she communicated with her team, set boundaries for herself and perhaps most significantly, how she replenished herself physically and looked at ways to create fulfillment outside of work.

Is it time to start with a blank slate? What are your opportunities to become more productive and satisfied?