Leading in the Whirlwind - Pause . . to anchor


He was an experienced sea captain and he had never known waves like them. The ship was being tossed around like a paper boat. His staff pointed towards the shoreline. “It’s time to drop anchor Captain,” said his second in command.

He pressed forward, leaning into the wind. The icy blast, peppering his chilled face with stinging hail. Swirling winds, gusting the snow all around him causing his visibility to be barely in front of him. He wanted to press on. But he knew now was the time to hunker down. Time to make camp, to weather the storm and plan the next stage. To press forward now would be foolish. He needed to press pause.

Leading at the moment can seem like a whirlwind. You just think you have things under your reigns and then another government COVID19 announcement happens, or another challenge to the organisation arises. Leading in the whirlwind can be a real challenge but I think there are 4 wisdoms in a whirlwind:

  • Pause

  • Review

  • Evaluate

  • Plan

Pause

Read any account of great adventurers and you will notice that in times of adversity, they often needed to drop anchor, set up camp and press pause. They recognised that sometimes pressing forward can cause more damage than good. Sometimes you just need to pause. And yet, in our modern-day adventure of leadership, we often forget this valuable tool in the leadership armoury. The power of pressing pause.

Pause, does not mean stop. It is momentary. It has every intention of continuing, but for now it can wait.

So, what is the power of pause?

Pause can allow you to rest, recharge, energise

Pause can give you time to review the situation to gain clarity

Pause can give you time to evaluate the best way forward

Pause can give you time to plan

But most importantly, pause can give you time to anchor yourself. In the midst of a whirlwind, your mind can feel pulled in all directions and ‘pause’ allows you to review again what is your anchor. What is it that is your purpose, your reason for your mission? What are the values that are key to your organisation? It is too easy in the whirlwind of pressure to forget what is important. Pause allows you to re-engage in purpose. I often speak to people about knowing their ‘Top Trump’, the card in the pack of Top Trumps that you know is your winner. What is the purpose that drives you forward, even in the toughest of days. Pause allows you to re-connect to that.

Practical Pausing

It is easy to say pause, but what does this look like in reality?

Pause can be

  • Getting an early night, even when things are pressurised. The recharge helps you think more clearly

  • 10 minutes of journaling, reflecting and diarising your thoughts

  • Chatting to the leadership team about purpose and values together

  • Contacting a fellow leader or mentor who is not in the organisation for a chat about it

  • Booking a coaching session to help you get clarity about the situation

  • Going for a walk in the park, thinking and mulling over the issues

The form it takes will depend on you. Extroverts love to chat through issues. Introverts like time to think. Without the pause though, errors can be made. Without the pause, we can press on when the team are exhausted. With pause, it allows us to regain purpose and control.

This week, many leaders have decisions to make, situations to adapt. Have you pressed pause? Have you anchored yourself in core mission and values? Have you gained clarity of purpose?

Pause . . and anchor.

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