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The Power of The Pause

I was coaching my client, Mary, a senior manager at a technology company. She was struggling on a work project in which she was partnering with her boss. It was not going smoothly.

This particular coaching session was an Equus Coaching session, involving Mary standing on the ground, a horse with a halter, and a lead line.

As Mary started interacting with the horse from the ground, my invitation was to first set a boundary, a comfortable distance for the horse to maintain from Mary.

That was established. Success.

Next, the goal was to begin partnering with the horse to create movement, much like a dance, moving the horse forward and back. Finally, I suggested she lead the horse, shifting speeds, and communicating the desired goal and when to stop.

What was most interesting, and illustrative to Mary’s current work situation, came up when she was leading the horse. It didn’t go well. Mary would start, a clear goal in mind, and as she moved, the horse would start, but at some point would begin pulling backward against her with increasing pressure. Mary did manage to keep bringing the horse along, but found the task exhausting!

I stepped in and modeled what I was seeing her do with the horse. Watching, Mary quickly spoke, “I see what I am doing. I am so focused on getting to my goal, that I am dragging the horse along.”“Yes, my story is that in your goal-focused-mind, you have lost contact with you and your own body, and as a result, the horse.” I replied. “You can’t expect to move a 1500 pound animal if you aren’t even embodying your own 150 (give or take of course) pound body.”

I suggested she try pausing during the process to connect to herself first. Mary tried it again. The second time she paused. In doing so, she took a breath, felt her feet and grounded in her whole body. The horse visibly relaxed and easily followed.

Mary quickly got the impact of focusing only on her goal, and discovered the power of pausing, and connecting to herself, before simply pushing on, or in this case pulling or dragging.

This simple session offered a profound shift for Mary. She recognized that on the work project she was so focused on the goal, driving for the deadline, and missing the connection to herself, and her boss. No wonder he kept resisting her ideas.

In life, and in leadership, it is so easy to be focused on the vision, the goal, or the milestones. Often this emphasis comes at the expense of noticing what is happening internally. When we lose connection with ourselves, we lose connection to others, as well as, the impact we are having on them, making our goal-focused efforts counter productive.

As leader to you wonder if you get too goal focused? How good are you at using the power of a pause to connect to yourself?

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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