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Can Clarity Be Found By Taking Time To Pause?

Sometimes clarity can be found by taking a quick, simple step back from an over-whelming situation. 


Help! Cried the weak but desperate voice of my mother.

It was 3am and I was half-asleep on a mattress on the living room floor of my parent’s tiny flat in England. It had been my temporary home since I had pressed pause on all other aspects of my life to spend the final few weeks with my father as he entered the last stage of his brave battle with cancer.

I raced to the next room to find my mother moaning in agony with intense chest pains “I think I’m having a heart attack she gasped.” Immediately, I raced back to the living room to call an ambulance, my 30 years of experience from delivering some of the biggest mass participation sports events where I have managed many ‘disasters’ kicked in. Stay calm, I told myself but it was impossible to ignore the over-riding thought that I may be about to lose both my mother and father.

For what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a few minutes, I raced up and down the stairs between the front door and my mother’s bed until the ambulance finally arrived. The ambulance officers paused momentarily at the bedroom door to survey the scene and the thought that sticks most clearly in my mind is that I could barely stop myself from screaming out “come on, do something, my mother is dying.”

Like all good professionals they were doing exactly the right thing – utilising the ‘Power of Pause’ to evaluate the situation before taking appropriate action. Within moments, they were asking my mother a number of questions and examining her to quickly determine that she was not, in fact, having a heart attack.

My mother returned home from hospital later that afternoon in good spirits and with, most importantly, a fully functioning heart. The whole experience, mostly with hindsight, reinforced my belief in the ‘Gift of Disaster’. I strongly believe that there is an opportunity in every challenge if we choose to look for it. There is also enormous value in the ‘Power of Pause’ during times of disaster.

The fact that I had paused other aspects of my life to be with my father presented so many wonderful gifts that I will cherish forever. I also sometimes wonder how they would have coped with the situation if I had not been there – another gift for sure.

The reinforcement of the Power of Pause from those amazing ambulance officers has come back to me many times in challenging personal and business situations. So often, in our increasingly frenetic world, I think we rush straight into action and make uninformed and unconsidered decisions. On most occasions stepping back whether it be for a few seconds, a few minutes, hours or even days to evaluate the situation before acting would ultimately serve us and those around us much better.