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Power of Pause - Awe

Screams ran throughout Parliament Square. A giant blue man looming, almost as tall as Big Ben. The picture could be scary. It’s all a matter of perspective though. For the blue man is only 10cm tall, held in the hand of a squealing child, excited at the deceptive photo they were creating with their dad. It all depends how close up to the item you are as to how big it looks.

Often, as leaders, when we are in the midst of challenge and difficulty, when we have been in the thick of the mire, particularly when we work intensely on it, the problem can seem huge and all consuming. Almost like a giant blue man about to maraud parliament. There is an important pause that we as leaders need. Pause for ‘awe’ that helps us proactively put things in perspective.

Awe, is the fourth of six powers of pause that can help us REGAIN energy and focus when leading ourselves and others.

R - Reflection - Take time to reflect and journal about yourself or the situation to plan improvement

E - Energise - Use exercise, rest or mindfulness to recharge your mind, body & spirit

G - Gratitude – Use a rhythm of thankfulness to reduce stress & gain perspective

A - Awe - Take time to reflect on the moment or nature and use awe to gain perspective

I - Inspire - Take time to read, watch or listen to replenish your thinking, knowledge and wisdom

N - Now – Use the power of pausing to notice your senses, your body, to be in the moment, the present to replenish the mind

What is awe?

So, what is ‘awe’? Awe is wonder, amazement, astonishment, admiration, reverence and respect. It is a moment of complete admiration in something, someone or a situation. Have you ever felt awe? It is being in the moment, leaving everything else behind, standing, watching and admiring something of beauty.

Where can you find awe?

Our world is full of beautiful places. Maybe visiting a place of wonder, a beauty spot, a place of tranquillity, picturesque countryside? I can think of moments overlooking a valley in the Dordogne watching the meandering river or standing near Limavady in Northern Ireland, looking at the valley below heading out to sea. Stopping by a field of sunflowers, gently swaying in the breeze. And in those moments, pausing, and sensing awe.

Maybe nature is not your thing. Everyone has their own interests and awe can be found in manmade things. Maybe a building of architectural beauty? I can remember sitting in the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, just looking up at the ceiling, the beauty of the symmetry and then wandering outside to see the sculptures on the building that was started nearly 150 years ago and is still unfinished. And I stood there in awe. Maybe for you it is found in engineering: a bridge, an engine, a crane in action.

There is a third area that I have experienced that sense of awe. It has been watching people work together in complete synchronicity. Sometimes, in sport you can see it. When the passes of a ball and movement of players are timed to perfection to the point of beauty. The awe is heightened when you are the coach who has worked with them and have seen the improvement in players and passing. It is not confined to sport. I can remember moments in my previous career as a headteacher, pausing watching my team working in complete harmony, overcoming a challenge and feeling that deep sense of satisfaction, pride and wonder seeing them bringing something to fruition. Pause. Be in that moment.

The Power of Awe

All of these, when we pause and watch in the moment, can create a sense of awe. Awe brings a sense that the world is in harmony at that point. Awe allows you to see the magnificence and beauty of something, that strangely allows you to put the thing that you thought was huge into perspective.

Pausing for awe, can be proactive and can be reactive. Planning in moments in your week to spend time in places that create awe for you can help you to gain perspective regularly, so that if you face challenges they are already in perspective. The 'blue man' is after all in reality only 10cm tall, and soon in perspective when you take a step back and he is in the right hands!

But, can you really pause for awe in the midst of challenge? Is it possible to see awe when things are awful? In my experience, when you see a team pull together and respond as one to a difficulty, it is something of beauty, something to encourage you. When the difficult situation has been dealt with and there is that moment of quiet, that moment to pause in awe and be thankful that disaster has amazingly been averted, there is power in that moment of awe. And when everything has indeed gone wrong and your friends and family are there standing with you. Pausing in that moment of awe, being present in that, rather than the disaster, can indeed be a moment of awe that can re-empower.

So, where do you find awe? Is it part of your routine? Maybe it’s time to pause in awe.

Do contact me directly at if you are finding it particularly challenging and would like some coaching to help you find moments of awe. If you would like to move from survive to thrive then please contact me.


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