The recent events that have followed the inauguration have catalyzed the nation and served to break us out of our over-digitized, self-indulgent, largely complacent lives and forced many of us to truly re-evaluate who we are and what we stand for. These events have served as the spark.
Yet between the spark and the flame there is a pause – a moment.
I feel caught in this pause. It is uncomfortable and it is tinged with an overwhelming sense of “not-knowing”. It feels unnecessarily elongated, almost paralyzing. Yet it is less of a paralysis than a contemplation. I try and remind myself that the pause is critically important. The pause is exactly what allows us to be thoughtful in our approach and in our reactions. The pause is what people strive for in meditation; to lengthen the time between trigger and response. It is what I have personally worked on over the years through meditation and other mindfulness practices. I’d like to think that I have lengthened the pause, and some days I have, but it is very much a work in progress.
And it is during this period of pause, for whatever reason, that I have been repeatedly pointed to “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl, by references in podcasts, articles, books and interviews. The frequency with which it has presented makes it seem as if it were some new bestseller, yet it has been printed more than 12 million times since its first publication in 1946. Call it synchronicity or coincidence, but clearly I was meant to read it.
Although brief, it is hard to read the book and not come away moved by the strength of belief, and a clear understanding of our need for purpose in our lives. Told through the first-hand experiences and learnings from a life in concentration camps, Frankl considers the value of the pause and puts forth a notion of its infinite possibility for growth, and for determination of purpose.
The power of the pause plays out for those who have found great personal and professional success, those who have achieved some level of "mastery in their craft" (to quote Michael Gervais). I see it as a critical component of development, and pursuing it an essential part of whole person leadership. So with that in mind, and despite its discomfort, I am trying to sit with and embrace the pause, the space, without rushing to judgment as to who I am, what I stand for, and what comes next.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl
If you are looking to understand and elongate your pause, I submit the following resources as a place to start: