78% of us say we get our best ideas doing one of these three things: showering, exercising and driving. But what if we were more deliberate about creating that time and space for us to be free thinking? For our brains to be relaxed and connect some dots on their own? To not act more quickly, but pause more deeply? That is the premise of the brand-new book The Pause Principle by Kevin Cashman, senior partner, CEO and Executive Development, at Korn/Ferry International.
He details a catalytic process to guide you to step back in order to lead forward in three critical growth areas: personal leadership, development of others, and fostering of cultures of innovation.
The goal? To learn to move from management speed and transaction to leadership significance and transformation.
“Pause powers purposeful performance.” That’s a tongue tying alliteration for sure, and one that Cashman himself had to be deliberate about delivering in his book launch party I attended this week.
Put another way, in the day-to-day rush to get things done, we are often too busy and too distracted to focus on what’s really important. We seldom take time to step back and reflect, and that process can often give us clarity about our work, our relationships, and maybe even our mission and purpose in life.
“How am I going to move from speed to significance?” Cashman asked the audience somewhat rhetorically, though of course had spent a year developing some of the answers to that question and others.
Speaking of speed, at the start of his presentation, Cashman stated that one out of every three of us suffers from “hurry sickness.” That is we are always rushing to be everywhere and yet getting nowhere.
He also cited the statement of a CEO he coaches who told him about getting into the swimming pool with problems, and coming out with solutions.
“That’s what happens when we slow down and relax the brain. We have these a-ha moments.”
As much as we can probably all look back on times when we have solved problems exactly when we’re not trying to be intentional about it, Cashman says most executives only spend 5% of their time engaged in reflective thinking.
“The vast majority of organizations, 89% in fact, state innovation is their most critical strategy,” Cashman told the audience at the book launch event hosted by Navigate Forward, a Minneapolis-based executive transition and outplacement consulting firm. “Yet our research shows senior teams only spend an average of three-and-a-half days a year on it.”
“The vast majority of organizations state innovation is their most critical strategy. Yet our research shows senior teams only spend an average of three-and-a-half days a year on it.”
“Fast thinking is the domain of management transaction, while slow thinking is the leadership domain of strategic, innovative transformation…At the core of this transformation is the ability to pause. But for most, slowing down to drive performance is counter to instinct, especially when they have been rewarded for speed and action. But stepping forward to act, particularly in complex situations, without first stepping back for information, clarity, and connection to what is most important can be disastrous.”
What do you think? Does this make sense? Or is your reaction the same as one of Cashman’s CEO clients who said, “Hey, I need to do more work, not less.” Is being reflective the same as not working in your mind? Does your company culture allow a time and place for this kind of reflective thinking? Do you feel if you did more of this you might experience some sense of renewed purpose? Please share your thoughts.