Do you take regular reflective pauses?
Our ability to take a pause and reflect at any point in our daily routine or crisis circumstances
serves as an impactful indicator of both a growth mindset for our journey, and an enlarging
capacity for handling complex details. The more we normalize and value this response
internally, the greater our positive effect on our spheres of influence.
What is a “reflective pause”? Simply, it is a practiced discipline of moving from reaction to
responding after a deliberate pause to examine the truthful and provable details being
encountered. Many times, reactive behaviors spring forward quickly as a release of our
emotional state in the moment. Emotions are important to process and do have a role. In and
of themselves, however, they are the least effectual reason to base our responsive behavior
upon. Instead, responses based on what is true and real in circumstances will create the
greatest opportunity for appropriate, reasonable, and potentially helpful attitudes and
behaviors that can lead to positive interactions. The ability to ascertain what is both true and
real needs some level of examination beyond the actual moment. Pausing and reflecting on
these details can provide this outlook.
Why is this quality important, especially for relational leaders? For one, a leader who values
those they lead desires to build relationship based on truth. Discovery of what is true and real is
more important than even the expression of their own perspective or opinion. Two, these same
leaders also understand that a leadership lifestyle demands personal growth as part of the
journey. Otherwise, one’s capacity to be others-centered will eventually diminish as they fight
only for their own opinions. And lastly, relational leaders are well acquainted with the fact that
life experiences, especially with others, is rarely simple and straightforward, but rather complex
and messy. They desire an enlarging “capacity” within themselves to be able to handle more
and more complexity and messiness. Reactive living, as determined mostly by emotions and
limited understanding, diminishes each of these three areas over time. In doing so, leadership
impact shifts from serving and growing others to becoming more controlling and self-centered.
How can we grow this quality within us? Here are a few tips:
- Make it Important to You – Personal change begins with an internal shift of priorities
and values. Choosing this quality as important reflects that first step.
- Practice in Routine – Make it a point to practice your pause and reflect during a normal
day that has no particular crisis. That which you practice in times of normalcy will
become a part of your life expression, especially in times of crisis.
- Explore Actions for Your personality – For some, their ability to pause and reflect can
happen internally, no matter whose around. For others, they need to remove
themselves and get alone to do so. Regardless of the manner, it will require both some
time (pause) and critical evaluation (reflect) of the details. Create action based on how
best you can do that right now.
- Follow up Questions – Be proactive to follow up with additional, clarifying questions to
ascertain with greater confidence the truth and reality of the circumstances. Asking
instead of assuming is the mark of a truth-seeker.
- Make a Decision – Depending on the events, a decision is needed, whether to remain
quiet, offer counsel or direction, or even enter a type of conflict resolution process. As a
leader, act on in some manner the outcome of your pause and reflection. Doing so
reinforces its value for you personally.
Cultivating a reflective pause into our daily routines positions our hearts and minds to embrace
life and all its circumstance. Doing so gives us the constant opportunity to grow stronger,
deepen our courage and enlarge our outlook that life and relationship, even in crisis, remains a
gift of beauty, goodness, and wondrous expectation. Our world desperately needs this outlook.
In fact, each of us needs the encouragement of others like this too. Let’s do our part to be that
for others. You have permission – take your reflective pause. It will make all the difference.