Leaving room in the suitcase

We’ve all done it. We’ve packed our suitcases to the brim for a vacation thinking we’ll definitely need everything and anything that won’t put us over the weight limit.

And then when it comes time to bring a souvenir or two home…there’s no space.

If we want to bring something home with us for keeps or to share, we can’t…there’s no room. 

The temptation to overpack extends beyond our travel habits.

When it comes to sharing ideas, content, or an experience with others, it’s all too easy to ‘overpack the suitcase’. 

Be it a class, a keynote, an offsite, an executive presentation, a conference, everything but the kitchen sink ends up in our gathering for various reasons, including:

  1. We don’t know what we’ll actually need
  2. We don’t know where we’re heading
  3. We want to be over-prepared.
  4. We think it’s about us

All of these temptations stem from a mindset that falsely focuses inward.

When we gather, we want to take people to a new destination. That involves leaving room and leaving space for them to come with us. There has to be room in the suitcase.

The best gatherings, like the best experiences (be it travel, or otherwise) leave space for:

  1. The unexpected
  2. An audience’s contribution and connection
  3. Emotion 

Leaving space allows people to digest material during or after, in a hallway or in the chatter and patter before a gathering starts. It can be done with a simple question or prompt or even a breath. It can turn the responsibility or a bit of ownership over to your fellow travelers to invite them in, or destroy the distance between you on stage and them in the audience. 

Without room, an audience lacks the ability to see themselves in what you’ve shared. They don’t know how to join in, how to care, or how to connect. They only know to consume. But, for what?

Our success is not measured by how much space, time, or slides we take up. It is measured by our ability to bring people with us, and that necessitates leaving room for them to join if they so choose. 

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