How to use life's little transitions to find balance and happiness.
Every day we undertake dozens of different roles, tasks and experiences. Most of us habitually carry our mindset and emotional state from one of these activities to the next - and all too often this has negative, occasionally disastrous consequences.
For years we've been told it's getting the 'big' stuff right that gives us balance and makes us happy: the holidays, the audacious goals, the pay rises. But in our hearts we know it's really the small stuff: a great result at work, our welcome home, an absorbing conversation, a game with the kids.
This book is all about getting the small stuff right - not 'sweating' it, but making it much more rewarding, much more often. It's about using the 'Third Space' (that moment of transition between a first activity and the second that follows it), to mentally 'show up' right for whatever comes next. Gaining control of the Third Space will empower you to do this any time and every time. You will consistently be your best for your work, your family, your friends and yourself - and you will find that the key to balance and happiness was always there waiting for you in the Third Space.
Dr. Adam Fraser was a scientist in a previous life, studying psychology and physiology. After growing tired of academic life he stepped into the world of business and became one of Australia's most sought-after keynote speakers and consultants, all the time staying at the cutting-edge by continuing to research. During his career he has worked with a huge range of people, including elite-level athletes, Special Forces soldiers and CEOs of billion-dollar companies. In the last five years he has delivered more than 600 presentations to over 50,000 people. In addition Dr Adam is CEO of The Glucose Club, a company that guides and supports individuals into a lifestyle to prevent or improve existing diabetes. He is the author of the bestseller Sugar Daddy.
The Third Space
Random House Australia
Author: Adam Fraser
Question: Why did you decide to write The Third Space?
Adam Fraser: Two things happened that inspired The Third Space.
The first: I was doing some work with the Forces and when I saw some of the soldiers coming home from Iran, one of the things I noticed was how hard it was to transition back into family life. When I watched the newly returned soldiers in the home, it was as if they were strangers as they didn't know where to stand or how to act; the reason was due to the transition from being a soldier to being a parent, partner or civilian.
The second thing that happened is that I was booked to do a presentation to 5,000 people at the Convention Centre and 30 minutes before I had to go out on stage I found out that eight had died, unexpectedly. In that moment I was torn between going home even though 5,000 people were waiting for me to speak; I knew I had to pull it together and go out on stage. Under the circumstances I did a great job which made me think about the importance of how we move between different roles and environments that we have in our day such as how do we go from one meeting or class to another; that's where the idea started.
I began researching the importance of this transitional gap which I call The Third Space.
Question: What is the third space?
Adam Fraser: The Third Space is a gap between activities, rolls or tasks. For example you could be speaking with one type of person on a topic and then all of a sudden you have to talk to another person, with a different personality, and act and behave differently and talk about a totally different topic.
The Third Space talks about how in life we move between different stages because we may be doing administration and then all of a sudden we are doing something strategic and creative; the book explains how we move and alter our mindsets to suit each environment that we are in.
Question: Can you talk us through the secret to transitioning effectively in a three step process?
Adam Fraser: The first step is Reflect: when you come out of something you reflect on what's just happened in a healthy way. This is positive psychology where you spend more time looking at how you got better, what went well in the previous interaction and how you improved; what science tells us is that when we 'reflect' we improve happiness, grow as a person and we are more resilient. The first phase is about reflecting in an accurate and healthy way on what we've just been through.
The next step is the Rest phase which is the ability to calm ourselves and re-centre our minds because in the day we are so crazy doing so many different things that our mind becomes used to jumping all over the place which trains the mind to be really unfocused. As you transition from one thing to another you need the ability to support the mind and let it calm down which has a physiological impact where our brain becomes more focused and therefore we perform better.
The final phase is the Reset phase and as we move into the next phase we get really clear about what we're trying to achieve from the next task and what behaviours are going to help us do that.
Question: How can we go about using these steps in our everyday life to create work/life balance?
Adam Fraser: We found that transitioning effectively in a three step process worked at its most powerful when a sales person (or a call-centre) is moving between calls or when a leader is moving between different meetings or challenging tasks.
Our main project was with Deakin University where we looked at the transitional space between work and home. The three step process works for athletes and sales people and because of that we wanted to see if it had an impact on work/life balance. We asked people to do the three step process when transitioning between work and home and what we found, after a month, was that people saw a 41% improvement in behaviour, in the home.
Question: How can we implement the three step process to develop a work/life balance?
Adam Fraser: People need to implement the process where it suits in their own lives. As an example whilst walking the dog some people would do the three step process others may do it whilst on the ferry, train or bus; if people had a long journey they may reflect for a couple of minutes, rest (where you chill out and relax) for 20 minutes and the reset phase would last another couple of minutes.
People will take the process and implement it where they can. We've had a couple of humorous examples including a woman who was a counsellor and she would come home and lose her children in the rumpus room and her husband wasn't allowed home as she would take 30 minutes to herself where she would reflect and then her rest would revolve around a glass of wine and a trashy magazine before her reset process was about interacting with the family and being the mum and wife she wanted to be.
Most people move into tasks blind without a plan and we found that one of the crucial pieces is thinking 'this is what I want to achieve and this is how I want to behave' and then they will exhibit that behaviour which is far healthier.