The last three weeks have been an important time for me. I’ve had an opportunity to pause from the daily grind and routine. I knew I was in need of it, but I had no idea the extent to which I needed a moment to clear my heart, my mind, and be still and quiet. For the first time in a very long time I did not present at the South Carolina School Administrators Summer Leadership Conference. Instead, I was able to spend my time reconnecting with others I had not seen in person in quite some time, attend sessions as a learner, and make new connections as well. At the start of June, I was talking with a friend about how exasperated I was feeling, and I shared with her that I was uncertain if that feeling was due to COVID-19 and working during a pandemic, over extending myself in my desire to help anyone that asks for assistance, or if I was just in a season of being overwhelmed that was lasting a bit longer that I desired. My friend very simply encouraged me to put boundaries in place to take care of myself and to provide myself with time and opportunity to receive as much as I was giving to other people, work, and areas in my life. I needed to pause and be still. My mind, body, and spirit needed a clearing and a reset. The last two weeks have been exactly what I needed, and I’ve learned so much from pausing that I felt compelled to share it here in this blog post.
To clarify, pausing and stopping are not synonymous. There’s an important distinction between the two words that needs to be acknowledged. To stop means to come to an end, to close, but pausing is a brief interruption. Pausing allows us to remain engaged and committed to our purpose and life’s work while simultaneously taking a brief period to renew our mind, body, and spirit in ways that feed our hearts and souls what is needed for us for us to continue it journey. Think of a hiker who desires to complete an arduous trail hike. Pausing for water, food, or to observe nature allows for rest and renewal, and without it, the hiker’s ability to finish the journey is compromised. Leaders must do the same thing if we intend to complete our journey.
Secondly, pausing allows us to be fully present. When we are not at the mercy of email, the next meeting, the next due date, or deep in the throes of planning for the next big assignment, we can be fully present. Our undivided attention can be given to those things which are most important. We can fully engage without a lingering feeling that we are compromising our dedication to all the other things we need to get done. What a gift it is to be able to be fully present and in the moment. When we spend too much time anticipating what’s next, we can miss some of the most powerful experiences and interactions in our lives.
Finally, the benefits of pausing and what it can do for us afterwards is far more valuable than I ever realized. I feel with great certainty that my professional and personal interactions will be approached with a greater sense of positivity, and that my productivity levels will be much better than they would have been had I not had an opportunity to simply still my mind, body, heart, and soul.
I want to encourage leaders near and far to be sure to recognize when you need to press pause, and even more so be willing to do so. The people we are called to serve, care for, and lead will thank you for it, and you may find that you are a better and more present leader when you press pause too.
Until next time, be you! Be true! Be a hope builder!