As a coach I meet a lot of impressive leaders. Many of them work hard and put in very long hours, always pushing themselves to the limit.
At some point they fall into risk of serious health issues or find themselves not making the smartest choices. And when that happens, leadership becomes challenging.
Leaders push themselves because they believe the more they give the better their leadership. They don’t want to seem nonproductive. In time it becomes a vicious cycle, a never-ending worry that they’re not doing enough.
But a big part of leading is learning the balance between doing and being. The secret is knowing when to hit the pause button. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more pauses you take the more productive you become—and the more effective you can be as a leader.
So when should you hit the pause button?
When your standards of excellence are slipping. If you find yourself not meeting your usual standards, it’s time to pause and reevaluate what is going wrong so you can get your performance back on track.
When you’re seriously angry. The right words are good, but nothing has ever been more effective than a well-timed pause. When you feel like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, slow down and take a short pause—count ten breaths, maybe—instead of responding immediately.
When you want to be more productive. The best way to be more productive is to take time to reassess what you are doing and why—and then, with those things fresh in mind, to begin again with laser focus
When you’re starting to burn out. Everyone needs a break from time to time. Taking some time before you hit the wall is like a good investment—in the long run, you come out ahead.
When you’re rushed. Being in a hurry is the perfect setup for mistakes, so take a minute. Doing it right the first time may take a little longer, but it’s a lot faster than doing it over.
When you’re making important decisions. Take a deep breath and make sure you’re making the best decision. Making a choice and making it right requires time to reflect.
When you don’t feel well. Make your health a priority; more and more research shows that rest and sleep are essential to physical and mental health.
When you aren’t having fun. Stop and evaluate what’s temporary and what’s permanent in the situation. Ask yourself what you can do to bring joy to what you’re doing.
When you’re on the verge of doing something unethical. The moment you find yourself thinking of doing something that will compromise your character, hit the pause button hard and look at what’s motivating you. Often it’s either fear or greed. Think your actions through, because a reputation that takes years to build can be destroyed with one bad action.
As leaders, knowing when to hit the pause button is just as important as knowing how to stay productive and prolific. Make sure you can reach yours when the moment comes that you need it most.
Lead From Within: Pause when you must, and in each pause allow yourself to respond from the deepest levels of your intuition and wisdom.
[box]Lolly Daskal is the president and Founder of Lead From Within a consulting firm specializing in executive leadership coaching and customized leadership programs. Connect with Lolly Daskal[/box]
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• Lead From Where You Are And With All That You
• The Wisdom Of Whole Hearted Leading
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.
Susan Mary Malone
22. Sep, 2015
Oh, this is so timely for me, Lolly. I’ve just faced this, especially seeing my standards slip and facing burnout. It’s been a crazy time, and I did just as you said–I paused. It was an intuitive decision, and made an enormous difference.
But whew–it’s so nice to see you validate that choice!
ben van 't ende
22. Sep, 2015
Great article. Good that you mention burn-out. It is very difficutt for people in the burn-out cycle to step back an see what is actually going on. Your article might raise some awareness in people facing that. I love the title. I wrote a small piece on Pause a few years back: http://ben.vanten.de/post/62582342892/pause
24. Sep, 2015
Burn out happens to most of us and the way to give ourselves a break is to— TAKE A PAUSE.
22. Sep, 2015
Very wise words Lolly. Sadly too few leaders know how to press pause. We can push and push and puts but eventually run out of energy. And when that happens it can be a deviating crash.
24. Sep, 2015
We need to learn to pause for ourselves and so we can be examples for others.
22. Sep, 2015
Thank you Lolly on of all your the Great effort all your speech Yes it is true secret to success is knowing when to hit on the decision to stop the pause button I hope that be a stemmed from great insight insightful at least the leaders, and also to help us in all difficult situations
23. Sep, 2015
Very true..people need to learn HOW to take pause..it really works !! Thank you for this sharing Lolly 🙂
24. Sep, 2015
You are so welcome. Pause so you can be more productive.
25. Sep, 2015
When you have many tasks to handle and people depend on your decision, pause, may not seem the best solution. But just like you said, clearing your mind in key situations can help you go on the right path. Stress and prolonged working hours have a negative effect on our body and mind. It is almost impossible to think clear if you do not allow your thought to rest for a second. This is indeed a rule all leaders need to remember.
28. Sep, 2015
Great article once again and as usual you will be translated in french as we need your wisdom too !
Leadership is about knowing. When to act and when to rest, when to speak and when to listen, when to rush and when to pause, when you know and when you don’t know.
Concerning burn-out, never forget to take a deep look in your personal life too. Work is usually blame first, but personal life is where we should find peace, love, caring, a reason to live and rejuvenation. Not having these is also part of the burn-out process.
Thanks a lot for your work Lolly
25. Oct, 2015
Great reminder that we have choices in how we approach each decision and each moment.
I believe that with higher self-awareness comes higher Intention, and with higher intention comes a greater probability of harnessing the potential of each moment we encounter. Also, we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that every moment is a blank slate because we bring our own “charge” to each moment, so if we are carrying too much of the wrong charge, we can easily choose an action with negative or limiting consequences.
“But a big part of leading is learning the balance between doing and being.” Great advice and great reminder, Lolly!
08. Dec, 2019
I must say I am completely mesmerized and I find this post highly beneficial. It’s not up to 12 hours since I got to know about Lolly and I have had a handful of thought provoking inspirational messages.
“Think your actions through, because a reputation that takes years to build can be destroyed with one bad action.” This is Fully Noted.
Thank you and don’t stop.