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Power of Pause - Inspire

What makes a great leader? Thousands of books have been written on this topic, so it is unlikely to be answered in just one short blog article. The answer is complex, but I think it can be boiled down to these components. A great leader is someone

  • Who has a heart for those that they lead, not for themselves

  • Whose character and integrity is rooted in true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable qualities and who regularly checks their character for flaws and addresses any

  • Who is authentic

  • Who has distilled their experience to gain wisdom to draw upon in different circumstances

  • Who has a clear vision, communicates it passionately and successfully takes people with them on the journey

  • Who is a learner, realising they are never the finished article and that there is always something new to learn from others and the experience

Inspire - Someone else’s memory chip

Now there will be more elements, and by all means join in the conversation, for that is how we learn and develop. It is that last one, the learner, that I have particularly discovered more of in the last 3 years since establishing Everyday Leader. I have over 30 years of experience of leading in different contexts, and I have learnt that despite all of that, there are still things to learn. So, how do you learn them? Well, more experience of course, but the other way is to invest regular time to ‘pause to Inspire’ yourself. We can’t experience everything ourself, so do the next best thing and listen, read, watch what others have learnt. I often wonder whether in the future there will be ‘memory chips’ that people can implant to know experiences that they have not had. Science fiction has covered that topic on numerous occasions, normally showing the scary consequences of such things. Maybe such memory chips are better left alone, but the current equivalent of reading books, listening to podcasts and watching TED talks on leadership thinking and experience is a much safer way of gaining this knowledge.

Inspire – Energising

Inspire, is the fifth 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

Like all of them, this can be a pro-active practice. Regularly taking time to pause from the day-to-day whirlwind of leadership and to inspire and breath in new thinking, can be energising.

Often, when we are leading, we will look at the situation that we face with our experience and the wisdom that we have gained from that. But, even with years of experience, there may be facets that we will not see the situation. By reading widely, listening to podcast or watching talks, we open up some new thinking. This can help us see a diversity that we did not have before. When I coach people, and they discover a perspective that they have not seen before, you can literally see their face light up. The energy in their determination to tackle the problem rises. My clients comment to that fact too:

I genuinely found today captivating and feel that this will be a pivotal part of shaping the future!

Thank you so much for helping me to see the light at the end of a very confused dark tunnel. I feel so energised after our coaching sessions and this in turn helps me to prioritise and also celebrate some of our achievements.

With coaching, that energy is applied into the situation that you are considering. When we proactively pause and inspire, we build up our knowledge and store an energy to tackle something with more wisdom than we previously had.

How do you pause?

I know a number of leaders who say to me, “I don’t like reading,” or I don’t have time to read.” Now, while some of my teacher leader friends will have spat their tea out at this statement and now need to regulate their breathing. This is ok if you find yourself in this situation. Many years ago, this would have seriously inhibited your leadership journey, this is less so now. It is also not an excuse from pausing to inspire yourself. You can ‘pause to inspire yourself’ through many different mediums.

  • Reading

  • Podcasts

  • Online leadership videos

  • Attending training courses

  • Peer conversations

  • Coaching

All of these are about pausing the whirlwind of the day to day and proactively taking time to inspire yourself. Which one you chose, is down to your preference. If you ‘don’t like reading’, then chose one that you do like or that suits your situation at the moment. Some of them require a longer chunk of time, like an hour or two for coaching or half a day or a day for some training. Others can be in bite sized chunks, like a peer conversation or a 20 minute podcast or video.

Now, for those of you with busy schedules, who are now thinking or mouthing the words, ‘but I don’t have time’, let me help you. Firstly, podcasts can be played in the car if you are travelling or in an earpiece whilst you have breakfast. I highly recommend the following podcasts:

  • Leadership Lounge by Everyday Leader (of course you would expect me to celebrate this!)

  • At the Table by Patrick Lencioni

  • High Performance Podcast by Jake Humphries

And there is also another really important thing that will help you if you are busy. ‘You make time for what is important’. If you are driving you make time for petrol. If you are hungry, you make time to eat. If you don’t do either of these, there is a breakdown. You can make time for ‘pausing to inspire’. It doesn’t have to be long and it can be down whilst doing other things too. When I go running, I listen to a podcast. When I drive, I listen to a podcast. It doesn’t have to be long either. I read 10 -30 minutes before bed. Pausing to inspire, can be in bite sized chunks. But, importantly, it is about making time for the important things.

Next steps

There is a slight irony, that in reading this blog, you have in fact just ‘paused to inspire’. It was easy to do. Just 5 minutes and you’ve injected a little ‘pause to inspire’ into yourself. How does it feel? A little bit often can refuel you. The next step, is to make pausing to inspire part of your weekly diet. Are you up for that new habit in 2021?

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


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