The empty bench. What stories it could tell.
The bench can symbolize loneliness or time alone, moments of relaxation or contemplation. Regardless the reason, taking time away is a powerful tool, one that is almost always needed. This is true especially when we go through hard times or need time to replenish.
Have you noticed that there seems to always be a bench nearby? When was the last time you took advantage of a bench and took some time away? The hard times of life that we go through seem to affect us the most. Those circumstances can have a positive or a negative affect on us, but rarely leaves us untouched. I have met many people on my journey that have been through hard times and are still positive with an incredibly joyous spirit.
On the flip side, I have also met many other people who have been through the tough times of life and are still holding on to the hurt, resentment or even bitterness. Instead of letting the hard times make them stronger they let it define who they are and who they have become.
In both situations the hard times have left an impact.
How is it that people are affected so differently? Going through the tough times and coming out better requires us to be intentional in our behavior and attitude. We must consciously think about how we are and how we will respond. We can’t just leave it to chance or do nothing.
We must be intentional to decide and to do something.
Will you respond by being bitter or better?
This is a phrase many of us have heard before. The difference between the two is being intentional to choose how we want to live, think and speak.
Oftentimes it means taking the time, time we don’t think we have, and getting away to reflect.
Taking time alone is vital to who we are as leaders. Time away to reflect or contemplate renews us. It is during this time that we think through the circumstances and make conscious choices. It is also a time that we take care of ourselves. We cannot give to others what you don’t have.
It is only in those quiet alone times that we get renewed. It is making time to sit on that bench for a personal retreat, whether it’s a few hours or a whole day. It is intentionally saying I can only be at my best when I plan to take time away, to surround myself with things that feed my soul and spirit, that energize and inspire me or to make decisions about the things we are facing. We are more creative, more understanding and patient, and are better leaders when we take a time out and invest in ourselves.
Everyday leaders long to be at their best. We know that life can be hard and is messy. We know that life is unpredictable. Yet, we also know that God has given all of us the ability to choose how we will respond to those circumstances.
Everyday leaders, choosing to be better instead of bitter, even in the tough times. Intentionally planning personal retreat time and investing in ourselves so that we can be better for others and make a difference.
Mark you are so right! This is why I believe strongly in monthly personal retreat days. This is not a day to catch-up. Leave the emails and unfinished tasks for another day. Do not hold this day in your office, home, or place of work. Look for a place with few distractions.
away from the office
YOU must be put on your calendar
helps clear the fog in your head and bring in clarity
helps you focus
time to plan, think, reflect, look forward
write down words that have stirred you and explore them on this day
Oh how I wish we could get a time out by just closing our office door but so many times we need that break of scenery to breathe. Find the bench!!
You are so right! But one thing that people don’t do is plan a strategy from the outset, that might make it easier to have some free time for time outs. Figuring out which tasks to outsource, how many and which markets to go after, and even who to get financing from all can influence how easy or hard it is to take a time out. (I have a lot more on this on my site thebalancedentrepreneur.com). BUT EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOT SYSTEMATICALLY DESIGNED YOUR BUSINESS TO FREE UP TIME, FIND THE TIME FOR TIMEOUTS ANYWAY! (Not yelling, I just use Caps for emphasis 🙂 — I never yell 🙂 )
Great food for thought that has made me realize I need to find a bench! I thought I was taking TIME OUT by closing my office door…not really…not at all! Thanks for a great article and the reminder.
Ok – I could sit on a bench EVERY day! 🙂 Thanks for he reminder!
You hit it out of the park Cathy. Great Article