Mar 8

Take a breath: The art of pausing

I originally started writing this blog as a reminder to re-read emails before sending them. Partially as a reminder to myself and partially because I get an astonishing amount of correspondence with typos, confusing information, ones not intended for me and a whole slew of other errors. To be fair, I’m just as guilty of this. We all get caught up in checking things off our to-do lists – and onto the next! – but, it makes me wonder: When we’re so task-oriented, what is the quality of our output?

As we head into spring with the soft air slowly teasing the promise of new life, I’m going to work on perfecting the art of pausing.

I often find myself longing for a sidewalk café where the mood is effortless, the food is savored, the conversation is boundless and time is non-existent. For me, there is truly no better moment than this. It’s because you’re taking the time to actually experience every second, letting words trail, emotions linger and quietness ensue. While we live in Michigan and not the Mediterranean, I think this mindset is something we can incorporate into everyday life.

For whatever reason, everyone seems to be in a state of panic in the past few years, with every deadline coming in as ‘yesterday.’ It’s almost like we’re going through an industrial revolution of the workforce, with leaders trying to perfect the human machine so it’s constantly producing – regardless of the integrity of the end product. And while I think we’re learning how to harness the power of the workforce, we might be losing something along the way.

It seems in our quest to be efficient and concise (which, in full disclosure, I love to be) we often create a hurried response to a colleague or type up a document just to get it done. Never re-reading, never viewing through the receiver’s eyes, never just taking a pause to be sure it’s actually saying what you want it to. I wonder, if we all just took an extra minute or two to let something sit, would the quality of our work improve?

Because I relate everything back to my passion for all things culinary, it’s like we’ve moved from focusing on lovingly cooked, handmade meals to relying on fast food to nourish ourselves. Sure, it gets the job done in the moment, but the long-term effects on our system could be grave. I can share that if you ever come to my home for dinner (COVID, COVID go away!), it’s going to probably be late, but will hope it’s satisfying because I give ingredients the time and respect they deserve – and need – to thrive.

OK, now to contradict everything I just said. Sometimes, you just have to get you-know-what done. And that’s OK, too – it’s about balance, right? My point is everything is not an emergency. I think we often create an artificial environment of urgency so when everything is urgent, nothing winds up being urgent. When we spin into this frenetic chaos, we just end up running around haphazardly, squawking and frustrated with ourselves and the wonderful humans who make up our lives.

Lest you think this is an ode to a much simpler life, it’s not. It’s a call to just take a pause and think about how much time we waste going back-and-forth because of miscommunication, to think about what message we’re sending to our colleagues when we makes their lives more difficult out of our own hurriedness and to think about how we can all focus on higher-quality, not higher-quantity, output.

While I’ll never stop dreaming of three-hour lunches spent laughing, dreaming and scheming, I also embrace the high demands of today’s work culture. I’m just going to try to stop and smell the roses (or I should probably say tulips since we are in West Michigan) because it’s usually in those small pauses when true inspiration comes.

One thought on “Take a breath: The art of pausing”

  1. Carmen Heaney says:

    Such a wonderfully written piece. Thank you, Brian. And thank you for not calling me out publicly on my emails:)

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