Don’t let your business drive you mad
– press pause for sanity and success
When it comes to marketing, or any other business activity for that
matter, you’ll find more success if you’re thoughtful, creative,
innovative, and energized for the long haul.
Sure, you can go from zero to a hundred in just a few seconds –
only to crash and burn in a blaze of gory glory! Or, you can discover
how to pace yourself so that you and the business are still around –
still driving, still thriving – 10 years down the road.
The secret rests in restoring the rhythm of renewal to work and life.
Yes, you press for performance, but you also pause for renewal. Pressing
for performance comes easily to ambitious business owners and entrepreneurs.
Pausing for renewal is not quite so automatic, but it is every bit as
Here’s what giving yourself permission to pause can do for you.
Pausing restores perspective. Though speed is the pace that’s launched
a thousand shops, the reality of life in the entrepreneurial fast lane
can be a rude awakening. When it comes to marketing, producing, and delivering,
you are it! Or, if you’re not it, you’re responsible for the
people who are. It’s easy to get mired in the details. Pausing regularly
to lift up your eyes, recall your intent, and refocus your actions makes
all the difference.
Pausing brings insight. Pausing gives access to answers buried in the
noise and commotion of everyday life. I recently quizzed a handful of
colleagues about the pros and cons of a contract offer. One finally counselled,
“You’ve got all the information there is to be had. If you’ll
just be quiet with yourself, you’ll know what to do.” I was,
and I did.
Pausing makes room for learning. Learning leads to improvement. The US
Army follows each manoeuvre with a pause for an After-Action Review. In
the break from the action, they address three questions: What went well?
Where did we mess up? What did we learn for next time? If you find yourself
making the same mistakes over and over, pausing for an AAR could break
Pausing sustains spirit, productivity and quality. “You can’t
just burn people out,” says a dot.com marketing vice-president.
“When you have a high priority, sprint as fast as you can. When
it’s not urgent or critical, take a pause. If you work 20 hours
a day, your product will be crap.”
Pausing carves out space for relationship. If the only way a business
partner or a life partner can get your attention is to scramble along
beside you as you run your next race, he or she may not be there long.
Relationships are neither built nor maintained on schedule at high speed.
They take time and space to evolve and mature.
Pausing minimizes regret. If your tongue is razor-sharp and fast, words
spoken in haste could cut another to the core. A pause between a thought
and a comment could mean the difference between keeping employees or clients
and having to make amends.
Pausing promotes creative thought. A writer observes, “Creative
people have a talent for doing nothing. Sir Isaac Newton wasn’t
running around with a clipboard and beeper when he discovered the law
of gravity, but sitting under a tree, watching an apple fall.” Does
your nonstop action leave any space for dreaming up new innovations?
Pausing conserves energy. A professional tennis coach counsels his players
to give it their all when the ball is in play. However, as soon as the
ball goes dead, and during that walk back to their starting positions,
the players should slow their breathing, quiet their movements, and still
their minds. This conserves and rebuilds energy for the next demanding
exchange. What if you took the same approach between business rallies?
Pauses come in all shapes and sizes. A two-minute break in the midst
of a task. A short walk at lunch. An afternoon of “do nothing”
puttering. A long weekend at the cabin. A week-long vacation in the mountains.
A one-month sabbatical.
What do pauses have in common? A break in the action. A change of pace.
A change of focus. A distance from the commotion of the moment.
To develop the habit of pause, start small. In the midst of a frenzied
day, stop. Step back. Take a moment. Take your pulse. Take a breath. Take
a look. Tune in to yourself and tune in to your surroundings.
Restore that rhythm of renewal to your work and your life. It’s
good for you – and good for the business, too.