When I met him, Matt was frustrated. “Why don’t they just listen to me?!”
A bulk of a man with a booming voice, he’d built his business through sheer will & hard work. He’d made it, despite the odds. He could not, for the life of him, understand the disconnect or what he was missing in communicating with his team.
For the love of Pete, he’d been in battle during the war! He led his people and they had trusted him with their lives.
It soon became clear to me, Matt’s energy was off:
✅He barked orders (urgent & impatient)
✅He didn’t listen or ask for their input (he had all the answers)
✅He didn’t slow down to see if his own requests were reasonable (they often weren’t)
✅He micromanaged & seemed angry all the time (non-approachable)
✅He didn’t show them his heart–yes, his heart–the reason he was in business in the first place
Urgent, laser-focused & competitive, Matt’s driving energy had built his company.
That energy was great for getting the job done. Now, he was spewing his energy all over the place–it had the best of him.
What is it to lead?
To be a leader is to be a lifelong learner. More specifically, the best leaders learn how to learn.
Managers, teachers, executives, directors, teachers, analysts, salespeople and parents--all are continually required to learn new skills.
Conventional, rationalistic tradition–involving lectures, books, debate–leads us to believe incorrectly that learning happens solely in the mind.
If John can understand & analyze data, we’d say he’s smart. If Susan can prove what she says is true, we’d say she’s developed expertise. Nothing wrong here, though this focus on cognitive learning can take years to develop and doesn’t guarantee that you can take right action when you need to.
Besides, it’s not enough to simply be knowledgeable about something; it’s necessary to act and perform in new ways that fit the situation at hand.
In the old view, our bodies are simply transport vehicles to move us from one meeting to another while we absorb essential information with our brain.
What if, however, it’s the case that the learning needed today–immediate, pragmatic, actionable–actually occurs and becomes embodied through consistent, deliberate recurrence over time?
Learning is the result of new practices that we commit to engaging in with our body, not to merely gather and understand information, but to be able to take new action.
Riding a bike, shooting free throws, playing the piano or driving a car–all involve embodied learning.
Our elders especially valued this type of learning because it’s so practical.
By intentionally attending to your body to discern its subtle, invisible wisdom, you’ll be able to take new actions not previously accessible to you.
This type of learning is exactly what’s required for you to lead your team, to have powerful conversations and to evaluate complex situations to commit to a wise path forward.
Embodied learning is whole-self learning that starts in the body & allows you access to new action you couldn’t take previously.
Matt’s first step
Matt didn’t need new information, he needed to be different to relate in his world.
His driving energy–great in the military & for building his business–was now generating negative consequences instead of moving his team forward.
And despite Matt’s being a smart guy, he couldn’t ‘see’ what he couldn’t see. His knee-jerk patterns and strong reactions were invisible to him.
When Matt & I first started coaching, his initial practice prescribed by me was to Pause, to slow down for 10 seconds, to literally feel himself breathing.
This simple, body-based practice increased his awareness about his energy & people, and his lack of listening. He could now ‘see’ and understand what was interfering with his team being able to hear him & take the actions he requested.
Matt agreed to Pause:
✅While listening to everyone & before asking clarifying questions
✅Before directing his team to act by checking with them about their proposed solutions
The learning Matt needed–immediate, pragmatic, actionable–began to occur through his consistent, deliberate body-based practice over time.
That’s where Matt began-–with a physical Pause. A small step, yet critical for anyone really wanting to make a difference. Matt quickly began to see his leadership and influence grow. Trust began to sprout up like a new spring flower. His staff became more engaged.
Matt began to feel better and happier at work again. Client reviews, staff turnover & sales improved.
How can the power of Pause change your leadership?