Five Stages of Loss

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Building off of what Meg discusses in her book — there are a number of challenges that we felt we would have overcome by now but haven't. In our rush to move forward, we've lost track of where we are standing and can't acknowledge that we're lost.

Here are the stages that people who are lost move through:

1. People who are lost first deny that they are; they plunge confidently ahead even though they can't find any familiar signs.  They reassure themselves that everything's okay, they still know where they're going, the maps are still correct.  But gradually, confronted with strange and unfamiliar sights, anxiety seeps in.   They speed up their activities, urgently wanting to verify they're not lost.  Those lost on a mountain walk faster or go in circles; those lost in a failing project work faster, harder, and go in circles. 

2. At this point, doubt and uncertainty creep in.  People become angry and impatient, pushing aside any information that doesn't confirm their map.  They become desperate to find the smallest scrap of information that proves they know where they are.  They reject all other information; they treat as enemy the very information that would help them get unlost, pushing it and its messengers aside. 

3. When this strategy fails, people reach the point when they can no longer deny that they're lost. Fear and panic set in; stressed and scared, their brains stop working.  They can't think straight, so every action they take is senseless, only creating more exhaustion and more problems. 

4. By now, confused and panicked, people search frantically for any little sign that's familiar, the smallest shred of evidence that makes them feel un-lost. But they are lost, so this strategy fails and they continue to deteriorate.                 

5. When people realize that they are lost, that their immediate survival is at stake, they have only one option.  They must accept their situation: they are truly lost.  To find themselves, they don't have to change their physical situation, they only have to change their minds.  Instead of looking for hopeful signs that confirm the old maps, they acknowledge that this is where they are, right here, right now.  Setting aside anxiety and becoming aware of the information in the present environment, they can create new maps  to find their way through.

  Do any of these behaviors feel familiar?  Do they describe your own or colleagues behaviors?  Are we lost?


Five Non-Traditional Ways to Pause

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In his latest book ("The Pause Principle"), author Kevin Cashman explains the importance and power of pausing and reflecting before moving forward. Most people think of a pause as a meditative moment, but in fact, a pause could be many things.

For this blog entry, Kevin compiled this list of Five Non-Traditional Ways of Pausing:

1.  Pause for understanding.  Certain that you know the answer?  That’s a good time to step back, gather more information, ask another relevant question, listen to someone else’s perspective, consider alignment with values and purpose.  Take the full measure of time to synthesize all the information. Managers too often make a quick response as a show of strength; leaders take all the time allotted for reflection before responding or rendering a decision.

2.  Pause for growth.  Schedule time and invest in your personal leadership growth through self-awareness and learning.  Help others grow and develop their talent.  Foster an innovative culture by incenting curiosity and questions that push boundaries.  Pause to think.  As a leader and strategist, isn’t that your job?  Encourage all your talent to ask: “Why? Why not? What might be possible?”  Step back to reward risk-taking; celebrate and appreciate failure for the learning that emerges.

3.  Pause for teams. Lost your focus? Feel like you’ve gotten off track?  Take the time to give everyone opportunity to express concerns, share their genuine feelings, ideas and listen authentically in the spirit of real collaboration. Help everyone reconnect their individual and team purpose around the greater mission.  Then, lead forward with greater, more meaningful impact.

4.  Pause for resilience.  Step back from the hurried, hectic pace, the onslaught of information and demands for energy, clarity, and fresh perspective.  Go for a walk or run.  Sit by the river.  Take a power nap, meditate, or listen to relaxing music.  New ideas and innovation emerge in the spaces between the doing.

5.  Pause for significance.  Engulfed in hyper-speed and productivity?  Next time you pick up your mobile device for a stream of transactions, pause and ask yourself, “What is really important today?”  When you step back to reconnect with what you really value, what will you choose to do or not do?