Where are you now? What are you doing? What role are you playing?
Right now you might be the “head of …” your own business and you’re having a discussion with a staff member who has missed yet another deadline. You’re managing the emotions in your head even though they’re bouncing around trying to get your attention.
It’s your final meeting of the day.
Next stop is home … via after-school care to pick up your son. You’re transitioning from one space to another. From your last office meeting to picking up your child. Different roles and environments with a different mindset required.
Dr Adam Fraser refers to these as “spaces” and that we spend our days transitioning from one space to another.
The first space is the role/environment/task you are in right now and the second space is the role/environment/task you are transitioning to.
In between the first and second space is the third space.
The third space is your opportunity to “show up” with your best head. The right mindset.
Professional tennis players spend a lot of time in the third space during a match. They’re transitioning from point to point. The transition they make can win or lose them a game or match. We’ve seen players “lose it” in the third space because they’re not managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
You can use the third space to gain an advantage. You can use it to gain perspective and happiness. You’ll then show up in the second space with the right mindset.
Do you remember an Australian pole vaulter called Steve Hooker?
He won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics which made him the first Australian male track and field gold medalist in 40 years.
In 2004 in Athens, he came 28th. Four years later, he won gold.
What did he do to increase his performance during those four years? In an interview with Dr Adam Fraser, he said he focused on the small things – taking time out to relax, working on his mental focus, monitoring his self-talk and improving his emotional control. He dedicated time to these small things. He did this consistently. Every day. In the third space.
We don’t utilise the third space. Instead we carry frustration from one space to another. We carry negative spill from work to home. We carry worry from home to work. We carry resentment from one meeting or activity to another.
So how can we get better at these transitions?
It starts with being aware of what we’re thinking and/or doing in the third space. By being aware, and then utilising the space effectively, you’ll start showing up in a more productive, calm, and thriving mindset.
- Put a sticky note on your diary (if you’re an old-fashioned journal type gal/guy) that says “third space”.
- Put a “third space” reminder on your phone that pings you a few times a day.
- Tell your work colleagues about the third space so you can remind each other – “how’s your third space going today Kay?”
If we don’t actively manage the third space, habitual unhelpful habits may take the lead.
Are you ready to transition?