Things you need to know about the book "The Pause Principle" by Kevin Cashman

We live and lead in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. But paradoxically, Kevin Cashman contends that leaders today must not merely act more quickly, but pause more deeply. He details a catalytic process to guide you to step back in order to lead forward in three critical growth areas: strengthening personal leadership, developing others and fostering cultures of innovation. You and your organization will learn to move from management speed and transaction to leadership significance and transformation.

According to Cashman, The Pause Principle can be a life-changing leadership experience, but it is one that requires “an intentional, conscious stepping back to go deeply into yourself, your leadership and the world you touch in order to lead forward with deliberate purpose.”

Cashman believes pause powers performance. By harnessing the Pause Principle, you give yourself and your team the ability to stop the speeding train of business before it derails. The Pause Principle offers support for the belief that the best way to successfully move ahead is to slow down.With The Pause Principle, you can activate the latent power of pause and embody its enriching properties for your leadership, and the future of your business and its teams. 

In this book , you will learn:

• How to use the Pause Principle to revitalize leadership and bring VUCA (Vision, Understanding, Clarity, Agility) to your team.

• The seven Pause Practices that breathe life into the workplace and grow self, others and a culture of innovation.

• How to harness the transformative force of purpose.

• The three interrelated pauses for growing others.

• How to shift focus and open up possibilities to help create a culture of innovation at your organization.

Here are some highlights from the book: 

Too often, we take for granted our simplest yet most profound and transformative human capabilities. Sleep, for instance, is, on the surface, very simple. Our superficial analysis of sleep says, “Yeah, no big deal. We rest and wake up. So what?” But take a moment to consider how profound sleep really is. Every night, we go to sleep fatigued and possibly stressed from the day. When we awaken, we feel completely rejuvenated.

What sleep is to the mind and body, pause is to leadership and innovation. Pause transforms management into leadership and the status quo into new realities. Pause, the natural capability to step back in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context. While losing touch with our ability to pause may be less obvious than losing our ability to rest, it can be just as devastating. In our fast-paced, achieve-more-now culture, the loss of pause potential is epidemic.

The demanding pace for global leaders has never been more challenging. Digitally connected every moment, we are increasingly tied to a 24-hour global clock. We are expected to perform continually in the face of global crises and multifaceted pressures, including downsizing and mergers, and the related stresses and expectations. The list of demands, personal and professional, never ends. This is the “new normal.” Could it be that going faster and driving harder are not the answers? Could there be another way to creatively sustain high performance? Could it be that the source of our real value as leaders might come from different thinking and different choices rather than from perpetuation of the incessant pace we are straining to maintain? 

We have isolated Seven Pause Practices that support the meta-pause principle: Step back to lead forward. These practices are the pragmatic ways to breathe life into each growth area: grow self, grow others and grow cultures of innovation. The applications are unique to each domain. The Seven Pause Practices are:

1. Be On-Purpose. Purpose is the intersection of competency and contribution that aspires to achieve something bigger, something beyond us. Purpose gives context, drive and meaning to personal growth, talent growth and growth of innovation. It may be the most important, most far-reaching transformative pause of all.

2. Question and Listen. Questions are the probing language of pause, forcing us to step back, reframe, re- vision and reconsider. Listening is the receptive language of pause. Listening is the incubator for growing clarity out of complexity.

3. Risk Experimentation. Managers minimize risk and experimentation to increase predictability; leaders monitor risk and accelerate experimentation to foster breakthrough. Risking experimentation is pausing at the edgy, uncomfortable intersection of current reality and future reality.

4. Reflect and Synthesize. Great leaders take the time to incubate analysis to discover higher-order, more strategic, forward-thinking solutions. Reflective synthesis is equally important for leaders to develop self-awareness, talent awareness and innovation breakthroughs. Reflection and synthesis hold the keys to unlock the doors of authenticity, transformation and innovation.

5. Consider Inside-Out and Outside-In Dynamics. Pausing to more deeply consider internal and external information creates a greater likelihood for profound personal, strategic, interpersonal and organization growth.

6. Foster Generativity. A generative leader pauses to prepare the next generation more than he or she pauses for personal success. Generative pause fosters a rich atmosphere for human potential to flourish.

7. Be Authentic. Once a leader becomes what he or she wants others to aspire to, the attractive force is irresistible and people rush in to engage and contribute 

Pause to Grow Personal Leadership. Pausing for self-awareness is like unlocking the doors to a series of rooms. While reflective pause is the key to unlocking self-awareness, self-awareness in turn opens the doorways to authenticity, character and purpose. Personal leadership growth is the ongoing process of being and becoming a more authentic leader.

Self-awareness is the most crucial developmental breakthrough for accelerating personal leadership growth and authenticity. Learning to pause to build self-awareness is a lifelong, evolving process.Why is self-awareness so tough to practice? As Bill George, former Medtronic CEO and best-selling author of True North, explains,Discovering our authentic leadership requires us to test ourselves, our values and our beliefs through real world experiences. This is not an easy process as we are constantly buffeted by the demands of the external world, the model of success that others hold for us, and our search to discover the truth. Because there is no map or direct path between where you are now and where you will go on your leadership journey, you need a compass to keep you focused on your True North and get back on track when you are pulled off by external forces or are at risk of being derailed. 

Pause to Grow Others. During the writing of this book, I was working with an executive in China who was working on pause practices to accelerate his goal of developing leadership in others. He surprised me with this perceptive insight, “Leadership is like cooking a fish. Once one begins preparing the fish, it is best not to interfere too much. It is very important not to overcontrol it or overwork it. It is best to start cooking, step back, turn it once, and let it finish. It is the Taoist principle of Wu Wei, the principle of least action. See the work. Do the work. Don’t interfere too much. Success comes by doing just enough, not too much.” In growing others, particularly high-potential talent, often less is more. 

Pause to Grow Cultures of Innovation. The world belongs to the most innovative. In today’s VUCA world, efficiency is the mark of management, whereas innovation is the hallmark of leadership. In fact, in today’s nonstop, globally connected business climate, sustainability rests on innovation. Without incessant innovation, the wave of someone else’s innovation will overtake us. Innovation is no longer merely a distinguishing difference for organizations; it is the enduring difference. But where is this innovation going to come from? From the rare genius-like inventors? Or from a culture of curious learners who are so passionate, engaged, and purposeful that they can continually redefine and reinvent? 

What if a critical mass of leaders paused not only to influence their immediate concerns, but also stepped back for a bigger transformation ... the transformation of the toughest issues we face as citizens in a global society?You are encouraged to pause for two very important final reflections:

1. Pause It Now. First and foremost, are you doing everything possible to grow yourself, grow others, and grow innovation? Global transformation begins with leaders like you authentically serving their immediate spheres of influence.

2. Pause It Forward. Second, what more could you do to “play a bigger game” to more positively influence the broader systems and human needs in our local communities and the world?

If we each step back to consider how to do our part, we may have a chance to lead forward to foster more enriching, sustaining futures for successive generations. As Anderson said, “Unless someone leads no one will.” It is up to us, the current generation of leaders, to create the future. It is up to us to pause it forward with authenticity, purpose, and generativity. 

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