This will come as no secret to creative people. The more gifted ones amongst us learn early on that the “Aha!” (breakthrough moment or idea) is too frequent a companion to the “Ahhhaaaaaaaa” (the pause or moment of relaxation) to be accidental.

Lately, any number of published works have been calling our attention anew to the power of the pause, the break, the interregnum. To slowing down in the interest of moving up.

The Pause Principle is, in fact, the title of a new book by leadership consultant Kevin Cashman. Explaining his ideas online in Forbes the other day, Cashman observed:

“Pause is a universal principle inherent in living systems. It is part of the order, value, and growth that arises from slowing down and stepping back. As activity lessens, order increases. The Pause Principle is present in economies, physiologies, ecologies, organizations and nations. . . .Yet, as a culture we have ignored it, turning instead to the fast-thinking and reactiveness seemingly required as leaders. On the contrary, the demands and challenges global leaders face call for slowing things down.”

Economist and thinking skills theorist Daniel Kahneman also features the paradoxical idea of going slower to move higher in his recent work, Thinking, Slow and Fast. The Nobel Prize winner spotlights two kinds of thinking systems. No. 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional. No. 2 is slower, more deliberate and rational. In today’s decision-making, says Kahneman, No. 1 has a way of shoving No. 2 aside, usually to our detriment.

Daniel Goleman revisits this “something old and something new” approach in The Brain and Emotional Intelligence. He suggests the “step back” approach to moving forward as Step 3 of the century-old model for creativity. Step 1 is define and frame the problem. Step 2 is go deep and gather information. Step 3 is [my italics] let go, relax, walk away. Step 4 is execute.

In my new book, LEAP! How to Think Like a Dolphin & Do the Next Right, Smart Thing Come Hell or High Water, I recommend pause behaviors in a chapter called “Power Shift.”

Over the years, my studies of people who progress as genuine, noteworthy leaders indicate that they often do so with such pause-oriented behaviors and choices as these:

• You work with the world you find, not the one the usual kingpins want you to think is “out there.”

• You aren’t easily spooked by scare talk and the scaremongers.

• You don’t have a lot of patience for shirkers or persons who refuse to learn.

• You mostly evaluate yourself.

• You don’t take power trips.

• Hype, buzz and other forms of manufactured drama generally turn you off.

• You can’t be bought.

• When it matters, you want to be in play.

Or as the preacher reminds us in Ecclesiastes, there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. . . .”

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