The power of Pause

I was quoted in Valiant CEO recently as saying that the pandemic provided a well-needed pause moment for the planet and humanity as a whole and that many of us began to question how we’ve been living our lives and how we want to work.

I wonder how many of us have succeeded in moving beyond pause for contemplation to create genuine shifts in how we operate, though..?

Or are we still throwing speed at complexity in organisations and individually cramming our day full of back-to-back meetings with barely a pause for a pee or a cuppa tea?!

A common trait in achiever-centric leadership is the preference for initiation over reflection. People operating from this preference value turning ideas into actions and getting conversations, tasks and projects started. They may lose motivation or become frustrated if they wait for others to get on board. They want to make stuff happen and won’t wait for others to initiate. Whilst valuable for seizing opportunities and getting projects off the ground, when this style is over-valued, it can lead to starting too many things or losing focus and not following through.

Something I’ve been talking to many individuals and teams is the value of an excellent operating rhythm, one that creates deliberate pause moments – moments for reflection, moments for human-centred conversations, moments to stop.

For teams, this means considering the different flow and allocation of group meetings and their duration, such as:

  • Collaborative Enquiry - to deepen relationships, maintain trust and surface tensions.
  • Strategy meetings - to work ‘on’ the business and focus on the big picture.
  • Stand-ups - to remain connected and updated on activities and check in on how people are feeling.
  • WIP meetings - to work through key themes, activities, progress and so on.

For individuals, this means capitalising on the opportunity created by new flexible ways of working to set up our own operating rhythm for work - within the boundaries of the organisational system requirements, of course. So, for example, I know I’m a powerhouse at 5 am in front of my laptop but have been known to slope off for a nanna nap at 3! Here are just a few of the simple tools and techniques that have come up in the last few weeks:

  • Use tools such as Microsoft’s or Google focus time to create deliberate reflection time in your day;
  • Commit to finishing meetings 5-10 minutes before the allotted time to provide a pause before your next engagement (and set that intention upfront at the start of the meeting)
  • Use pause moments between meetings to take a mindful moment or to allow the space to shift contexts for the next meeting.
  • Create the habit of pausing to check in before just clicking ‘accept’ on meeting invites that come through – ask yourself if you really need to be there?

What rhythm are you creating in your day to set yourself up for success?