The Power of Strategic Pauses


Recently, I was on a flight across the country. Typically, flying time is productive time for me. I buy a wifi pass and start knocking things out while I can’t be distracted by anything else. I am in the zone—except when the wifi doesn’t work on the plane. That happened to me on this flight, so rather than stressing about the work that wasn’t going to get done, I put in my headphones and decided to watch the movie Christopher Robin.

At one point in the movie, Christopher Robin asks Winnie the Pooh what he’s doing, and he responds with “nothing” then further explains, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best something.” They are talking about play and adventure, but interestingly, this quote was a good segway to a lesson I learned on that trip.

After my flight, I was at Chick-fil-A’s annual conference, and their president and COO Tim Tassopoulos spoke. He said that every month he schedules a library day, and he spends the whole work day in the public library. He said it’s especially helpful to be in a library because you can’t take a call on your cell phone. This forces the solitude he needs to read, to think, and to plan for the future.

When Tim got promoted to COO three years ago, he did the exact opposite of what you might have expected. Instead of ditching the library day, or at least reducing the frequency to adjust to his new responsibilities, he doubled down and went from having one library day a month to two days a month. He explained that the only way he will lead his organization effectively is if he takes time away from the noise of everyday life to think, to pray, and to strategically plan.

My friend Taylor Jones is the CEO of Whiteboard—the company that partnered with ADDO to create multiple websites for us—and his managing director looks at his calendar periodically to see if he’s scheduled a day off site to think, plan, and prepare. If he doesn’t see a day on the calendar, he will come into Taylor’s office, stand by him, and say, “I see you don’t have a day planned this month to take time away from the office. I’m not going to do it for you, but I’m not going to leave your office until you put it on the calendar.”

This is a convicting concept for me; it’s not easy for me to pause and plan. But successful people, and the ones I look up to and respect, strategically schedule time away to stop and to think. I think this is something that every single one of us (especially me!) needs to find time to do. It’s valuable for anyone leading an organization, but it’s also helpful for anyone who is trying to be intentional about how they are going to lead their family, how they’re going to be intentional in their marriage, and how they will raise their children. Our families, just like any organization, require intentionality and planning. If we aren’t taking the time to do it, we will miss out. As much as I hate it, the old adage really is true: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best something”—while this is true for the adventures of Winnie of Pooh, it’s also a helpful reminder to us to take a strategic pause. Maybe some time of doing nothing will lead to the most important things in our lives.  

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Today, business means more than just mere products and services. Your organization needs to stand for something. Branding is what you tell the world; leadership is how you make it come true.

No one knows this dynamic better than Kevin Paul Scott.

Companies turn to Kevin for advice on how to up the meaning-quotient in their businesses, so that employees and customers alike champion the business as if it were their own.

Let Kevin come and teach your group about how to build a business and communicate corporate values in a way that resonates with consumers.

His speeches include:
• Building a Business with Meaning
• Leading When the Majority is Wrong
• In Changing Times, Hold to Unchanging Principles
• The War for Talent: Recruiting and Retaining Top Tier Talent
• Essential Exchanges: What You Have to Give Up to Go Up