Friday, October 6, 2017

The Power of the Pause

Are you a motivated individual?  Are you always moving forward?  Are you always working on the next goal?  Do you get pleasure from the hustle of creating your future?  If you’re nodding yes right now, I’m glad for you.  Those are generally good qualities to possess.  You’re well on your way to achieving your dreams.  However, let me ask you another set of questions.  Which day of the week do you generally take off to rest?  How often do you find quiet places to reflect?  What do your personal retreats look like?  How much do you value rest and reflection?  If you’re staring blankly at these words wondering why anyone would ask such silly questions, we need to talk.  You, my friend, need to understand the power of the pause.

But, why?  Why would you need to stop, rest and reflect?  You don’t get any work done that way.  You’re either taking ground or losing ground, right?  Wrong.  If you’re under the impression that you can just push, push, push and continue to take ground, you’ve bought into a lie.  Have you heard the Law of Diminishing Returns?  The Law of Diminishing Returns simply states that every individual will hit a point in time when productivity will drop off significantly and will not return, no matter how many hours worked and how hard that individual tries to push through the wall they feel they’ve hit.  Daily, you’ll usually hit this wall at the 8-10-hour point.  On a weekly basis, after 5-6 days.  Beyond that, you’ll need to experiment and figure you’re monthly and yearly rhythms.  Think of your life like a road trip.  Driving hard may get you to your destination, but every road-trip is filled with pauses to cool down and refuel.

If you’re a hard driver and have thought of rest and reflection as wasted time, let me share two truths that those of us who do take pauses have learned.

Truth #1: Magic happens when you create space to dream and reflect.  A great mentor of mine told me years ago, “Life happens in the margins.”  He was right.  What are the margins?  They are the buffer times in your schedule and your life.  If you have every minute scheduled, all the time, you have no margin and that’s no kind of life.  When you create these margins in your life, you’re creating space to dream and reflect.  Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you had a regular flood of new and creative thoughts come to you.  This is why you get some of your greatest ideas in the shower.  It’s because the shower may be the only place you ever stop working!  That’s the magic that happens when you create space to dream and reflect.  Have you ever taken a walk down streets you normally drive?  If you do, you’ll notice all kinds of things you’ve never seen before.  That mom and pop business that doesn’t have a flashy sign.  The beautiful fountain that’s slightly obscured by a strip mall.  A lone home in the middle of a retail district.  You gain a greater perspective when you slow down.  You see things that were previously hidden from sight.  Your best ideas will be hidden from you if you continue to drive hard all the time.  Slow down and create space in your life to dream and reflect.

Truth #2.  Energy naturally returns and increases through these times of rest and reflection.  Are you tired?  If you never pause, rest and reflect, the answer is certainly yes.  If you’re in the camp with so many others who desperately want more energy, let me tell you something.  A good night's sleep or a few hours unplugged from your work will give you 10x more energy than that 4-pack of Red Bull you use as a crutch.  You can’t argue with God’s design.  You’re an amazingly complex machine, but you were born with the design that requires rest.  Just like any other machine with a design, if you use it like it was intended to be used, it performs. If you use it in a way contrary to its design, it breaks down.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done nothing for nearly an entire day, feeling like I had no energy, only to magically feel my physical and mental energy hit 100% sometime in the late afternoon.  The only thing I did to replenish that energy was nothing.  We are made to rest and reflect.  If we don’t we are not using our bodies and minds as they were designed by our Creator.  No wonder we’re tired, sluggish and stuck. 

It’s counter-intuitive, but if you want max energy and max creativity, you must step back, rest and reflect.  It’s the power of the pause.  It’s real and you cannot ignore it.

Agree or disagree?  I'd like to know.  And I'd like to know why.  Please, leave a comment.