Sloth Slowing Down - Nurturing Confidence

How can you Pause to slow down the busy?

Our culture is one of ‘Always On’ – how do we intentionally use Pause to slow things down.

With every passing year I have more conversations with leaders who are struggling to cope with increasing pressure and the constant pace of change. The pressure to always be ‘on’ has enveloped our workplaces and our lives.

One of the impacts that I consistently notice with my clients is that the pace at which we are working is having a very real impact on the quality of work that we are contributing. And our wellbeing as humans.

When we are all running, we are contributing to each other’s chaos. Our expectations on responsiveness have become so high that it feels like there is no time to think, no time to ask questions or push back on requests, because we just need to “tick and flick”, get it done, move on to the next demand.

We are missing the opportunities in every day to lead from a place of considered thoughtfulness, contextualised in the bigger picture of our work or organisation and grounded in the real needs of the humans we work with.

In this culture where we expect each other to always be on and the demands just keep on rising, how can we create more space to deal with this busyness differently?

I encourage my clients to create a habit of Pause.

No one is expecting our mid-level leaders to be able to tackle this massive cultural challenge themselves, or to stop, slow down and reject the busy in ways that risk their careers. But when we think about slowing down as creating moments of Pause in our days, it can feel more realistic to create the space we need to behave as a strategic, human leader more often.

So, what does a Habit of Pause look like?

  • Acknowledge that which is being asked of you. This might be an email saying “yes, I’m working on it”, “I’ll get back to you in 5” or a clarifying question – “this sounds urgent, what’s the actual time constraints on this?”
  • Think about what has been asked of you. Not just your immediate gut response, take a moment longer to ask yourself how this connects with what you’re trying to achieve, how you are trying to help your clients, or your expectations for the behaviour of your people.
  • Ask - Take a moment longer to ask yourself – “what does this situation actually need of me right now?” Find a question that works for you, in your context, to support you to think about your intentions as a leader in this role.
  • Then, choose how to Respond, rather than React.

This process of Pause need only take a few moments. But the habit of stepping back a little, practised daily, can transform our leadership capacity. Even as the demands continue to escalate, you will feel more in control, more intentional in your work and see the impact of your leadership align with your intention more often.

How can you Pause to slow down the busy, just a tiny bit, today or this week?


Note: Originally published 06 February 2020, on the Nurturing Confidence website.