‘I don’t have time to stop’, ‘I’m too busy to take a break’… how often do you say this, especially when you feel under pressure?
But what if pausing could get you to your goals more quickly? More efficiently even?
What if knowing when and how to pause – tactically – is the key skill you’re missing in the quest for productivity?
There’s a saying in the military:
‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast’.
A perfect example is evacuating a casualty – time is against you and your friend on the stretcher is deteriorating fast, you’re hot and tired, your feet are numb within your boots. You’re desperately trying to match pace with the teammates around you and all you can think of is moving as quickly as possible to the helicopter.
Then one person stumbles.
Suddenly the whole team is on its knees.
The casualty is on the ground. You’re scrambling to summon the energy to lift the stretcher, to find your rhythm again.
But what if you’d slowed it all down?
Concentrated on efficiency, matching each other’s stride and ensuring each team member was in the optimal position, rather than getting sucked into the tunnel-vision of the finish-line?
Going slightly slower using a controlled and effective change in pace means being significantly smoother. Nine times out of ten you end up achieving a better outcome.
As former NFL player Mike Hawkins said:
‘You don’t get results from focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that lead to results’.
The Tactical Pause is a skill that’s just as applicable to the daily grind of life as it is on the battlefield.
Every week, usually on a Friday, I set aside an hour to step-back and take an overview of where I am, what’s happening and what needs to be done.
It’s easy to plough on through endless to-do lists but are you ensuring maximum efficiency, working ‘smart, not hard’?
A Tactical Pause is not taking a break from work.
Instead, think of it as a breathing space to critically look at your time and effort, allowing you to identify a clear path forwards.
Consider the Tactical Pause a 3-step process:
Time to stop and ‘circle the wagons’, as it were. This is time to bring your sights back onto target.
Ask yourself one simple question: “What am I trying to achieve here?”
Take stock of your current situation, the information and resources you have and establish a plan going forwards. This is a critical step because when your head is buried it’s easy to miss changes in circumstances or new information.
NB: If you’re leading a team, a key component here will be communication – there’s no point in Realigning and Refocusing if new priorities haven’t been communicated and understood at all levels.
‘Refresh’ means maintenance of your human resources i.e. YOU! How are you ever going to be at your best if you’re burnt out?
Schedule in rest and recovery in its many forms and you’ll 10X your output.
So, next time the pressure is on – when you feel like you’re stumbling or stagnating even though you’re going 1000 miles an hour – you know what to do.
Take a Tactical Pause… because slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
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