Pause to sit in the mess - Leadership learning - Nurturing Confidence

Pause to Sit in the Mess

I have spent years talking about the importance of leaders learning to “sit in the mess” whatever this looks like for each individual.

When we find ourselves in an uncertain context and we are feeling stressed / nervous / overwhelmed / anxious / fearful (or all of the above?!), our brains search for solutions. We quickly jump to conclusions, answers, fixes that will make that discomfort go away. As we experience uncertainty, overwhelm, expectations and demands on ourselves and from others, the messier the context, the less answers there are, and the more unhelpful it is to jump in or wish it away.

As leaders, we need to ride the wave of emotions for ourselves, and hold the space for our people (and those around us) as we each ride the emotions of a new experience, new year, new project, life challenges or whatever the situation may be. It’s helpful to remember that we can’t fix it for anyone else, we can only manage our own situation.. And we also can’t just make it go away.

We can make it an experience to connect, build trust and learn from. Whether you are in a position of decision making, overwhelm or uncertainty or you are scrambling all hours of the day and night to create new solutions to problems or just navigating challenging waters, I encourage you to remember the Power of the Pause.

Pause for a moment for your own well-being and clearer thinking.

  • Breathe deep, sip your water, stretch up tall. Just for a moment.
  • Pause for your people – the calmer you are, the calmer they can be.
  • Encourage them to pause, breathe deep, sip some water, stretch up tall.

Pause to see the mess as a whole.

We cannot possibly know all the information, let alone all the answers right now. When there’s lots of uncertainty we need to ask more questions.

  • Pause to Ask. What do I not know yet? What else am I not seeing yet? What else could happen? What else is yet possible?
  • Pause to Listen. People need to be heard. For some of us the listening feels overwhelming in the moment but it is important.
  • Pause to Recharge yourself. Then keep stepping into the listening, for through this we will connect. We will see more and we will find more possibilities.

Practise being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable.

Then step in bravely, with curiosity for what you might get right and what you might get wrong. Then flexibly pause to reflect, and try again. Mostly just taking a moment, however tiny, whenever you can, to Pause and momentarily just sit in the mess.

We need your presence and your clear thinking – pausing will help you access that.