Pauses are essential.

“When things begin accelerating wildly out of control, sometimes patience is the only answer. Press pause.”

Douglas Rushkoff

But pauses are also healthy from a leadership perspective when things are in control. The problem is that you and I are not so good at taking pauses.

Why’s that?

The main reason is that we’re addicted to Done-Gone Feeling. Driving home after a long day at work we feel productive and valuable if we have faced a challenge or got things off our to do list. Ticking things off gives a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling of progress.

It’s a different drive home if we’re looking back at our workday and the main accomplishment of that day is pausing. Quickly the feeling of “but tomorrow I’ll be done with slacking. I’ll be more productive.” rises. Fear kicks in.

So, what to do about that? Are you and I lost forever? Always moving forward with no breaks?

Of course not. The first step is to realize the added value of pausing. As long as you don’t see that, you won’t pause. Stop reading for a moment – yes, pause – and think about what the added value of pausing could be.

A few of my answers:

Pausing helps Communication:

Pausing gives you time to listen and stops you from interrupting the speaker. This builds trust. Another benefit is that if you allow silence in a conversation, your conversation partner will start talking again and add more thoughts. This way you’ll get more information. The third benefit is that it will give you a few seconds to soak the words into your mind. This will lead to a better understanding.

Pausing Helps Create Clarity

Stepping back from day-to-day challenges requires pausing. Then you create that moment in which you ask yourself, “Am I doing the right things?’ or “Am I leading from pro-activity?” A huge advocate of pauses is Cesar Melgoza, CEO of Geospace, a business intelligence firm. In his words:

“…just sit in the room, let the pregnant pauses happen, write on the wall, come up with stuff.”

NYT, Dec. 22, 2015

Pausing helps with Health

Pausing reduces stress. The space created by a pause absorbs rushed feelings. It gives your body and mind a break.

Leadership Challenge:

Create a pause in the month of August. Maybe during conversations. Start practicing in easy, relaxed meetings.

If clarity is your main goal, schedule a pause appointment with yourself. Sit somewhere other than in your office to avoid interruptions.

Or schedule some time without appointments or ToDo’s. Make it a mini-retreat for yourself. [Note: don’t forget to schedule it].

See you in September. Looking forward to that.