Give yourself a PAUSE – #2 in series “Pausing with Purpose”

5 simple ways to build PAUSE into your daily life:     Lessons 1 and 2

Pause Blog Picture

Whether you are a leader, a student, a colleague, a friend, or a brother or sister, creating mental, physical, and emotional space through Purposeful Pause, can have a palpable impact on your daily life, how you connect with others in a meaningful way and the decisions you make.

A pause permits us the space to fit in a heightened sense of belonging or purpose, a feeling for the present. The most beautiful notes of a symphony often follow a dramatic pause, when the ears are primed to listen, to take in the unexpected.

A pause can generate a stronger connection to the world, to others, and to our core values. It allows us to filter out the white noise around us so we can actually hear the signal that helps guide us to our true north.

Many of us refer to our needed space as down time, a break, a time out, an intermission, or as of late, a meditation.  Regardless of the label that we put on this space, a purposeful AND intentional pause allows us to rethink, reboot, and clean up our “operating system.”  It is the pause that enables you to refresh and allows clearer thinking and better decision-making.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” (Mark Twain) Are you taking the time out to find out why?

Daily Practice in Action.  Pause Practice #1: Review What You Do in a Day bit by bit

Just listing what you do in a given week is one method of pausing. Most of us are creatures of habit and we don’t take the time to reflect on what it is we do each day – and why. How much thinking time do you build into any given day or week?

It’s not by chance that great ideas often come to us when we’re in the shower or in bed. Our minds are in a more relaxed state, allowing us to hone in on ideas that have been squashed by the noisy world around us.

Many of us grew up with our parents and teachers telling us to, “Think before you speak,” and yet so many of us stop doing it as we work our way through a complex and busy world. It’s not surprising that the combination of our long – very long –  and always urgent “to do” lists and our self-imposed pressure to always be digitally connected result in an utter lack of time for reflection.

We must take seriously the thought-provoking research and studies showing how impulsive behaviors and habitual responses (or System 1[1] thinking) can get us into trouble, blur the facts, or alter picture and word recall.

Pause Practice #2: Use Purposeful Pause to Reframe, Reduce Bias, and Make Better Decisions

In your daily life, where decisions are constant, take a moment to step back and consider how information or a situation can be reframed.

Daniel Khanaman describes how we more often go into autopilot, or a System 1 mode of approach, rather than thinking out the entire scenario before reacting – a System 2[2] response mode. System 1 thinking results in quick judgments and reactions instead of System 2 or reflective thinking, which leads to better decision-making. Does this resonate with you?  Khanaman’s recent article is a great read on this topic as he shares the financial consequences of System 1 thinking.

As Namika Sagara, a leader in decision-making research and a Bos Advisors community expert, points out that people hardly pause when things are going smoothly, and that’s when they are more likely to be relying more on System 1 thinking. This brings up an interesting point… Should people pause more when things are going smoothly, rather than waiting until things become challenging?

Pause Exercise: Pause and consider reframing the decision(s) you need to make or the set of information right in front of you. Academic decision-making research (or its offshoot: behavioral economics) has demonstrated the powerful effect of framing. That is, depending on the situation, we are likely to make decisions differently.

Higher levels of stress and urgency influence us to make rash decisions and rely more on System 1 thinking. By pausing and relying more on System 2 thinking, you make yourself less likely to be affected by a particular framing, which should result in less biased decisions.

Namika shares some specific ways to leverage academic research to create an effective pause. One way is to reframe the choice in front of you. For example, instead of only thinking about what you would gain or achieve with a decision, also think about what you would lose or miss out on. This will enable you to take multiple perspectives into account, weigh the positives against the negatives, and make choices that reflect your careful and more analytical thinking instead of merely habitual thinking.

Another way – which could be more effective for some people – is to imagine that your best friend (instead of yourself) is facing the same decision and that you are tasked with giving him or her advice on how to proceed. What would you say? This exercise will enable you to utilize a more objective and balanced thinking process.

Remember, a Purposeful Pause impacts your daily life by heightening your sense of belonging, generating a stronger connection to others and gives you the space you need to think more slowly enabling better decisions

[1] System 1: A mode of thought that is fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, and subconscious. (Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)

[2] System 2: A mode of thought that is slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, and conscious. (Ibid)

Give yourself a PAUSE – #1 in the series “Pausing with Purpose”

Take Five – 5 simple ways to build PAUSE into your daily life. Why it matters.


Pause Blog Picture

Pause:                                                                                                                                                 A temporary stop in action or speech – Pausa – ポーズ  – يقاف مؤقت  – Pausieren


“What are you gonna do next?” You hear this question around every corner today, and will keep hearing it in the future. It can zap your energy or your confidence whether you’re 19 or 69.

Often it means that you need to make a decision. And choice can create confusion regardless of your age—especially when there’s too much “noise” surrounding your options.

A 19-year-old is faced with the “What next?” question in a university setting as she shapes her identity by confirming her values around right and wrong at a time when peer pressure invades her thinking. A 69-year-old can feel like the world is in the rearview mirror as he struggles to make sense of the wisdom, ongoing curiosity, and love of learning that he wants to keep using and sharing.

In both instances, the pressure we feel and the fear that everyone around us is judging our next moves can be daunting. Taking a PAUSE can help you step out of the noise and let clarity and purpose come to the surface. It’s a way to refresh and reboot your mental operating system so you can keep moving forward and stay connected to the world around you.

Do you need to build PAUSE into your daily life? If you can answer “Yes” to one or more of these questions, my simple message is for you:

  • Is your head spinning and full of mental chatter?
  • Is frustration, anger, or fear dominating your life?
  • Do you wake up feeling dread rather than energized to engage in your life as it is structured today?
  • Do you find yourself in the midst of undesirable surroundings due to poor decisions you have made?
  • Do you have a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety about who you are and the decisions you are facing?
  • Do you struggle with connecting with others in a meaningful way?
  • Does your purpose feel foreign to you; making you feel like you’re just trying to get through each day?

Taking a purposeful pause is a way of giving your mind, body, and spirit a rest, a chance to reboot, purge and reenergize. A pause produces clarity, precision, and purpose. Think of a symphony… the conductor uses a pause to emphasize what follows. It allows the listener (or the thinker) to create space to truly grasp and appreciate “what comes next.”

It is not easy and often a little scary to pause, to step back and reflect rather than to constantly be on the go, go, go. We’ve become human-doings instead of human beings in order to escape and ignore the present.

And the present shapes the future. Are you choosing to live life by responding to it, rather than initiating and creating options to build positive emotions? By taking a pause to evaluate your current circumstances, you will be able to identify daily practices promoting a meaningful purpose and nurturing positive energy. Are you a human doing, always on the go, or a human being, honoring the power of the pause and saluting the positive impact it can have on the many facets of your life?

Join me here for 3 more parts to this series where I share the many reasons pause is a key ingredient to good mental health and happiness. You’ll discover simple ways to build purposeful pause it into your daily routine.

Ah, did I say routine? One of the key reasons to create space for a pause is so you can break your daily habits and routines and make way for new positive action. I’ll talk more about this in detail in my upcoming posts.

Daily Practice In Action.

Take the first step and begin to “practice the pause” in your daily conversations or presentations. When you want something to be remembered or emphasized, , insert a 5-second pause before saying it to allow the listener to anticipate what’s coming next. Then deliver the message that you want to have an impact. Do what the best symphony conductors do before delivering their best music – take a pause.


Until next time,

Bos Leadership


Self Made Heroes – Conflict & Learning Conversations

Leadership reflections on peace, dialogue, resolution after LeadersQuest to Israel and West Bank, 2015

Transforming difficult conversations to learning dialogues took on a whole new meaning for me after 10 days meeting with leaders and influencers, peace keepers – men and women – in Israel and Palestine as part of a LeadersQuest.  When emotions run high – an inevitable ingredient of difficult conversations – one must take  a deliberate decision not to blame, to withhold judgement, and to hear the “Other Side” of the story with an open heart and mind.  It’s about exploring how both sides jointly contributed to where things stand today and having the heart of a lion and soul of an angel to discover solutions together through dialogue.  It’s about common humanity – compassion for self and others. Oh, and make sure the sides are sitting on the same side of the table to nurture a context around connecting.

Be aware of the excuses we hold firmly as to why it won’t work.  “It’s complicated” is often one of the main excuses.  That’s no excuse.  I share my thoughts on this below.


Leading a For Purpose, NGO with Passion

Reflections on Transition: Gratitude, Lessons Learned From Volunteering and Succession Planning

“The stakes are higher when the financial stakes are lower.” I think all volunteers can relate to this statement, shared with me by the CEO of a leading not-for-profit organization, on a bus ride back from the Women’s Forum in Deauville in 2014. It particularly stuck with me as I reflected on my upcoming transition out of a leadership role of a dynamic, purpose driven global NGO and paved the way for an outstanding new leadership team, keen to make their own mark on the association.

When there are not extrinsic or personal financials linked to performance, it is not surprising that one links other, intrinsic values to contributions and achievements. In my reflection I have come to realize that the intrinsic motivators are powerful beyond measure and that’s a good thing. At the same time, a volunteer, intrinsic-based leadership role could easily become intertwined with one’s identity. Timely, intentional transitions, and early succession planning is necessary to sustaining momentum and a positive transition. I remind myself that the collection of equally important and dedicated network leaders, also going through regular transitions, is what creates an incredible platform for everyone to leverage. With that in mind, I am thrilled to welcome a new leadership team, the 7th Federation Board of PWN Global.

The strong and highly motivated leadership team will embrace the opportunity to take the network to a new stage of development and I am personally excited to see how things change, evolve and advance. As I have focused on my succession, I’ve paused to reflect on my personal journey. I have considered what I have gleaned from leading and supporting the transition to an outstanding new leadership team.

I have learned that virtual relationships are strengthened by a unifying common purpose that directly resonates with each leader personally and deeply. I have been reminded that sharing best practices, generosity and celebrating success all come hand in hand, and are a direct result of a unified, shared purpose within an organisation. Common humanity across our diverse cultures is what brings us together. I am convinced that our annual meetings where we share, debate, strategize and connect face-to-face, help us align and build bridges across our networks.

In summary,
There is always someone outstanding who is ready to replace you. Embrace this.
What an organization needed from a leader yesterday may be very different to what is needed tomorrow to bring it to the next level. Do not equate value and contribution to an organization ready for change.

Intrinsic motivations are powerful catalysts and trump currencies of influence.
Volunteer leadership raises one’s sense of ownership as it is about giving your time and energy to a cause that deeply resonates with you.
All good things continue.

When the fundamentals are there and good governance practices prevail, an organization will only continue to thrive and grow, albeit perhaps differently and in entirely new ways to the former leadership. Most importantly, things advance.
The mission and purpose of an organisation is what truly holds it together. The leader is a mere facilitator of this.

Women generously support the advancement of other women. As network leaders transition it is imperative to walk behind, ahead and alongside with support, praise, admiration and motivation whenever possible.

“The stakes are higher when the financial stakes are lower.” This continues to resonate with me.
I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t acknowledge that part of my identity has been linked to leading, boosting and building PWN Global, given my involvement for the past 10 years as a board member and most recently as President. Seeing as financial rewards are not part of volunteerism, I learned that my “payback” came from the leadership learning and development, the incredible global relationships formed, the cross cultural insights garnered and shared, the growing community and the opportunity to go from purpose to impact. These have all increased in value as the network has expanded. I am incredibly grateful to have had the privilege of accompanying others on the journey to advancing women in leadership.
Succession planning has been on our agenda for the past year and it is exciting to see a new group of leaders taking the reins and embracing the next stage of PWN Global.

I believe our sense of ownership and accountability is amplified in a volunteer organization, or at least it was for me. Leadership at an NGO requires a generous spirit, a passion to make a difference, dedication to the cause and a lot of hard work. Perhaps it’s because we’re leading this For Purpose network from the head AND from the heart. You volunteer because of an intrinsic connection and PWN Global is all about this.

I have been reminded that one’s own success is directly correlated with the success stories shared by others who are connected to the network. Our volunteers and community are leading busy lives, professionally and personally, which creates challenges in accessing them, and fully leveraging them. My advice to the next Board of PWN would be not to take the silence personally, but to persist in trying to connect and empower our global community to get involved and push progress.

I’m excited about what the future holds and anticipating more free time to fill with new and interesting endeavors. As I get more engaged with my own business again, I also realize that regardless of what fills my newly found “space”, sharing and celebrating the wonderful stories of our members, boards, volunteer teams and successes of our city networks will be ongoing. These success stories are what make PWN Global thrive.