The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward by Kevin Cashman, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 192 pages, $16.95, Paperback Original, September 2012, ISBN 9781609945329
Kevin Cashman’s classic Leadership From the Inside Out has been a consistent presence around here since he first published it nearly 15 years ago, so we were excited to see he is sharing his knowledge in a new book, The Pause Principle. Especially one with this paradoxical message: “Pause powers purposeful performance.” Cashman explains:
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 organizations and missions within a larger context.Most of us feel an acute pressure to act, to react, to respond immediately. Fast thinkers are regarded more highly than deliberate thinkers. People who process and communicate decisions are often seen as being more intelligent and are then rewarded for their speed. But Cashman wants to set the record straight.
As leaders, too often we step forward with action to deal with complexity without first stepping back for the clarity we need. Our impulse to speed up and take action is driven by our intention to achieve, but our go-to approach—action and transaction—is often futile….Unknowingly, our dedication to speed and action can be counterproductive.And throughout this slim book, Cashman offers a good balance of research, case studies and personal anecdotes to effectively advocate for the power of pause to “Grow Personal Leadership,” “Grow Others,” and “Grow Cultures of Innovation.”
What resonates most after reading The Pause Principle is a feeling of relief, a reassurance that if we stop, take a breath, give ourselves space and time to think and reflect, we can be more potent leaders, not lesser people. After all, “Great thinkers, scientists, artists, and leaders move the world forward by stepping back; the higher the quality of pause, the greater the creative possibility.”