In 2016, I was walking with a friend who showed me his phone revealing 278 unread text messages and said, “This should make you feel better about your life.” It didn’t.
Whether writing a Broadway musical (in his case) or attempting to normalize emotional well-being across school districts (mine), life is perpetually busy. But since when does busy equal success, value, creativity, significance, or building something special?
Simply being a human being in the current world seems to mean facing a constant stream of notifications. The pings from emails, text messages, and social media never end, and the noise they create is likely even worse for our students than they are for us. Adolescents and teenagers now are constantly connected–what kind of example are we setting for them by constantly being “on?” Are we teaching them that being busy is a necessity to becoming successful?
I finally realized that busy doesn’t equal any of those things. I realized I needed to pause to strengthen my own mental and emotional well-being and ensure that I can authentically and meaningfully lead my social-emotional learning company Move This World into the next phase of our development.
I took a break. That meant zero emails, texts, social media, or calls. I did not Skype into meetings. I did not scan my inbox or my news feed. In fact, I did not even have my phone. For six weeks, I went totally off the grid, part of which included a 12-day silent retreat studying Buddhism and philosophy.
Tap the Power of Pause for Better Leadership
It was hard to be away from my team, my husband, my family and friends, but the time helped me to dust off creative cobwebs, re-center myself, and mentally prepare for the challenges ahead. It helped me become a better leader and achieve significantly greater balance.
We call it “the power of pause” and it can be harnessed in big or small ways to help you on your journey.
By incorporating these lessons into your life, you can better equip yourself as a company or school leader, find balance, and, perhaps most importantly, set a positive example for employees or students to build in their own mindful moments in between all that they are balancing.
Here are the five biggest lessons from my power of pause:
Leaders often think they need to stay busy to be effective, but balance is critical for our long term success. I was operating at such a fast pace and with such high intensity for such a long time, I needed weeks of silence to recover.
It doesn’t have to be that way. By leveraging the Power of Pause, we can improve our personal sustainability, thrive as a leader and in our personal lives, and bring our best selves to work.
This article was originally published by EdWeek Market Brief on July 22nd 29th, 2019.