Pause for… // performance and perspective

By January 17, 2018Uncategorized

We often sit there watching TV, be it live sport, films, documentaries and more. In this modern day, we don’t even need to sit through the commercial breaks. We instead record and fast forward and we always know that if we need to step out the room, check on the kids, make a drink, we can always press pause! The joys of modern technology that gives us all that luxury for a moment in time. The same is true for radio and music thanks to Spotify and other well-known streaming services.

Pause or, the caesura is how we speak to each other, the rhythm of flow of conversation, the breath, you inhale and exhale, the break in poetry to experience its flow, the space in music to hear it flow. Pause is synonymous with rhythm and flow//don’t you know!

The pause button has been there since the 1960’s, before Netflix, Sky, Fox and Spotify. It had its own special button on our Walkmans, MP3 players and VHS recorders to keep the system operating whilst there was an intermittent stop. Now the pause is often is graced alongside the play button on our DVD’s, Washing Machines, iPods (if you still own one) and devices.

Its history in allowing us to pause performance in sport, documentaries, comedies, sitcoms and more has given us all the capacity to do more. Sport has seen the value in pausing games to analyse. Large screens were used to review, draw lines and circles, as people gathered to talk about the pause. It continues to permeate sport in various ways, some more successful than others and that success has a lot to do with the flow of the game so the right decisions are made and space is created for a momentary review.

Kevin Cashman, Global Leader in CEO & Executive Development at Korn Ferry was often asked by leaders “how can we step up to achieve more, to go to the next level?” He response surprised them all! He asked them to pause. This was met with all their reasons to do more, rather than pause more. He goes on to share that Andy Murray’s win over Djokovic after a 76 year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion in the US Open final was down to him practising the pause, not just his serve — stepping back for perspective, awareness and transformative clarity to emerge. ¹

“If leaders today do not step back to gain perspective and to transcend the immediacies of life, we will continue to crash economically, personally, and collectively”. Kevin Cashman

Pause is part of life, we do it every day. The momentary gap between your inhale and exhale, which thankfully isn’t under your complete control, although its quality is often shifted closer to hyperventilation! Books by Nobel prize winners give power to the pause. Go and read The Brain and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman’, or Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman to find out more.

When you carry on sprinting and panting through life you miss moments. Moments that you will never capture again, you can’t replay them like the TV. Moments you may regret when you lose your job, get sick, retire, move teams, more companies, lose good people. This relentless pace is unsustainable and I believe is one of the biggest causes of poor mental health we see, hear and experience today…

Before I had children, I identified with my work, my career at 100mph. My mantra then was “life is for living, cram it in”. When my daughter came along I then knew there was more to the constant treadmill that I lived in at the workplace, especially one with a value of ’speed’ and another one that’s talent programme was called ‘pace’! I began to see the natural ebb and flow of slowing down and what that created for me creatively, mentally, physically and emotionally. I returned to work some 10 months later and the frantic pace felt unnatural to me … because it was! 12-months on from returning I was diagnosed with cancer and that dished up a STOP button. On returning to work after treatment I knew the pace was something I could no longer sustain or wanted to even try and when everyone around you is sprinting you constantly feel left behind. It took some time to accept I was one of the few unconventional employee that valued reflection, perspective, time to open up my awareness to situations, tasks and people. A tortoise in a race full of many hares!

I have experimented with other ways of working that has given more natural rhythm and flow to the team and I. The change was palpable in a very short time period — the team’s higher energy was evident and our productivity soared. Respect for each other and our best times for creativity, decision making, deep work and more were considered. Lunch to recharge and refuel rather than refill and restart was honoured.

It’s time to give power to the pause, the natural ebb and flow, for if you continue sprinting and panting they will be no race alone.

“Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!” The Tortoise and the Hare


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Author Ria

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