In the world of soundbites where being busy in back to back meetings is like a badge of honour it’s vital to pause, think, consider before pressing the play button again.
It’s counter-intuitive to briefly slow down when the pressure in on to keep up the pace, cope with the volume of information that surrounds us all day and respond to the demands of bosses, clients, and deadlines. Pausing for a moment is exactly what helps combine pace in action and decision making with depth of thought and reflection.
It’s disarmingly simple
Yet, when is the right time to press the pause button? For a moment, an hour, a day, a season? How do you recognise and discern those times? How do you give yourself permission to pause? What are the habits you need to develop?
We are now beginning to know from modern neurobiology the science behind the ancient wisdom that has inspired the use of ‘retreats’ in so many traditions. The important integrative functioning of the mid pre-frontal cortex (which connects emotional insight as well as rational) is only accessed in ‘pause’ states. Without this, the processing engine of the massive neo-cortex simply cannot make the connections necessary to interpret complex experience. The simple, powerful, self-recollective technique of pausing – to listening, to walk, to journal, to question and to talk are the habits to develop to turn data into insight, experience into wisdom, energy into purpose.
That is what pausing for performance is all about – it is a paradox; a small pause that engenders massive movement.
A few people we’ve met over the last year or so have really taken this to heart. Here are a few of their stories.
‘Jack’ is an entrepreneur
We met him when his ecommerce business was on the verge of making the big breakthrough. Demands from technical challenges, a newly expanded team and investors to say nothing of expectations from his customers, friends and family meant there were just not enough hours in the day. Everything was blurred. Pausing for the day completely transformed his energy and enabled him to remember why he was passionate about his invention and to realise his priority is to be with his customers at this stage.
‘Frankie’ was facing a big reorganisation in his senior global role
Uncertainty was clouding his judgement. He paused to think through various ‘what if’ scenarios and consider what was important to him. Later, he took the redundancy option and has launched a new business. He found the courage of his conviction was rooted in the thinking he did on the Pause day.
‘Rene’ wanted to deepen the impact of her charity enterprise…
…and yet keep her work life balance in check. In a flash of insight she realised that returning to the gritty ‘frontier’ part of the world where she’d grown up and be among the people who’d inspired her was what was really needed. A year later she came on another Pause day. She’d travelled ‘home’ and returned invigorated. This time she brought her colleague so that they could pause together and think about the next stage.
Jacqui Zanetti and Belinda Smith run Pause days for groups of as In-House training.