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Energetic Pauses: How a Focus on the Present Relieves Stress and Increases Productivity

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“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead, his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein

Too much to do and not enough time—this is the modern leader’s dilemma. Our daily routines stress us out because it feels like there’s no time to breathe—much less think—in between the endless meetings, conference calls and last-minute emergencies.

Too often, we equate busy-ness with productivity and effectiveness, but top-quality thinking doesn’t happen unless you give yourself the time and space to reflect. What is more, if your eyes aren’t open to what is happening in the moment, you are missing out on emerging opportunities.

By suspending your preoccupation with the relentless march of time, you make space for more effective, asset-based thinking. You allow the assets in the moment to present themselves to you. This is what I call creating energetic pauses or kairos opportunities.

In Greek, kairos signifies a time in between when chronological time ceases to be relevant, when something special is occurring. Its nature is qualitative; it cannot be measured, only experienced. The word kairos literally translates from ancient Greek as the right or opportune or supreme moment. My tried-and-true ABT exercise for creating kairos opportunities is called Scan, Snap, Savor. I’ve talked about it before (see this post), and below is a short refresher.

The next time you feel overwhelmed with the obligations of the day and you need a break to get your head straight, try the exercise below.

This brief respite (less than two minutes) from the hurry and pressure of the day fuels not only your wellbeing but also your leadership effectiveness. By momentarily transcending the tyranny of time, you are refreshed, energized and opened to the kairos opportunities in front of you.

Step 1: Scan

Look for the positive facts that are happening right now (e.g., You just received the information you needed to complete the next step of a project).

Step 2: Snap

Aim your mind’s camera at that fact and then “snap” the shutter to capture it and burn it into your memory.

Step 3: Savor

Turn that “snap” into a lasting positive experience. How do you feel? Grateful? Enthusiastic? Optimistic? Resourceful? Spend 30 to 60 seconds savoring the positive emotions associated with that fact. Savor it.

What are your tips for stepping outside of time to refresh and recharge? Post them in the comments!

Dr. Kathy Cramer

Kathryn D. Cramer, PH.D.
Founder and Managing Partner, The Cramer Institute