Tom Shefchunas

Press Pause

by on in Leadership.

For many of us, December is one of our busiest seasons. If that’s you, you might be thinking that you just don’t have time to “press pause” right now. But hang with me. Because I think this time of year, with 2013 winding down, the rush of the holidays coming to a head, and the beginning of a brand new year about to begin… I think this is the perfect time to press pause, take a breath, and evaluate.

Evaluate what, exactly? Ourselves.

One of my favorite books on leadership is Integrity, by Henry Cloud. In it, Cloud describes something called the Observing Ego. It’s “our ability to monitor our own thoughts, behaviours attitudes, feelings, abilities, choices, values, desires, talents and the like.” He goes on to tell us that the mature among us are those who can self-observe and self-correct.

Makes total sense when you think about it…doesn’t it? In fact, I think there is some Biblical evidence to this whole idea.

Romans 7:15 is a very interesting verse. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (NIV)

If you think about it, it’s kind of like there are three Pauls in this scenario. There is the Paul that wants to do the right thing. There is the Paul that does the wrong thing. And then there is the Paul who is watching the whole thing go down… from the inside.

Research tells us that somewhere around middle school we become aware of our “inner-conversation” with ourselves (a point worthy of several blogs about middle school strategy in the future). After that, it’s been my experience that we learn to observe and inform that conversation as we mature. We talk to ourselves about what we should have done and what we plan to do in the future. We observe ourselves and we coach ourselves. Well… at least we do if we ever want to really grow up.

Though it is a complex idea, to get started you simply have to take one small step.

You simply have to pause.

Self awareness, and personal development start with a pause.

It’s amazing the sort of trouble you can save yourself if, at your slightest change of emotion, you simply stop and ask yourself, “what actually is going on here?”

Now there is so much more that we can talk about from here but there is no use in talking about it unless you get in the habit of “pressing pause.”

So, here is my question for you…

How do you strengthen your “pause muscle?” How do you exercise it? How do you become more and more aware of when you need to pause? What do you think?