The pause principleIf you feel like you’re juggling work and life 24/7 you’re not alone. The stress of this juggle not only undermines our leadership, it threatens our well-being.  What the solution to this insanity? I seem to recall Albert Einstein saying: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  So do something different. Pause. I had a great conversation with author and mentor Kevin Cashman this week and here’s what he shared that just might bring more work life sanity to our work and to our lives.

I first met Kevin about seven years ago when I read his leadership classic “Leadership From the Inside Out” and he facilitated a leadership retreat I was part of.  Reading his first book was transformational for me. Our dinner conversation was  equally enlightening as he talked about the importance of pausing – the topic of his latest book “The Pause Principle”.  Kevin Cashman, a pioneering thought leader in leadership development for 30 years, one of the most sought-after CEO coaches, advisor to senior teams in over sixty countries, made a statement that stuck with me. He said he needed to practice mindfulness for at least an hour every day in order to do what he does.  At the time I thought: “He’s got time to do that?”

What’s “The Pause Principle”?

The “Pause Principle” has a very simple message.  Pause powers performance. It’s counter-intuitive in a work culture that is so focused on “doing”.  In his book, Kevin shares studies that demonstrate that our constant doing leads to transactional vs. transformational thinking and relationships.  We are juggling priorities so we are not fully present where we are. “This hyperactive state that we exist in values activity over strategy, innovation, and significance”, he says.

What are the Practices for The Pause Principle?

The book suggests three practices to pause:

  • Pause to grow self – For us to to be effective leaders of others we must first become aware of ourselves.  Taking a step back to get more self-aware helps us to prioritize, get into purpose, connect with our authenticity, our gifts, and our development areas.
  • Pause to grow others – This is about pausing to coach and develop others. How do we help others build their self-awareness?
  • Pause to grow innovation – The book suggests practices such as the use of questions and the power of curiosity. Those best at driving innovation ask two to four times as many questions as others.

Really You Want to Me To Add Something Else To My To-Do List?

As working women we work hard at work and then go to the second shift at home.  How can we possibly make time for this too?  Before we take this on we have to let go of a few things off of our to-do list.  Here’s my list of what I plan to cut out:

  • All the things I say “Yes” to that don’t energize me or meet my goals (I say “Yes” because I want to be liked)
  • All the activities that I do from habit (and never paused to say “why am I doing this again?”)
  • All the activities I think I have to do to take care of others. I can pause and help them learn how to take care of themselves
  • My belief that I have to get it all done perfectly and only I can do it right
  • My belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness

What are you planning to cut out so you can make room to practice “The Pause Principle”?

If this resonated for you, please comment, subscribe and share with others.

Additional Information:

The Pregnant Pause: A great tool for Emotional Intelligence

Leadership Practices for Work Life Sanity

Breathe, Meditate, Lead – Ways mindfulness can make us better leaders

Henna Inam - Professional Photo - ColorThis article was written by Henna Inam, executive coach, speaker, and consultant.  She works with women to help them realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. They create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, Nestle, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam.