The Power of Pause

The Power of Pause


Take 5 minutes.

Let the baby cry. Let them soothe themselves. Let them learn to fall back asleep independently.

Let the child fall down. Let them feel the full impact of the fall. Let them feel the pain. Let them feel the emotion: fear/anger. Let them learn to get back up. Let them learn to continue playing.

The kid does/wants something not right. You begin to muster a “No!”. You decided to not yell. You inform your kid to let go. You tell each other to go to the room. And, you calm down. Before “re-grouping” to discuss the pros and cons of that “no-no” thing.


This is the power of pause. The power not to react to the situation but to positively manage a situation.

Mastering this skill will aid parents to have positive, respectful and healthy relationships with their children. Yet, mastering this skill takes time and effort; as parents need to re-think their roles of raising children from that of over-protection and instruction to one that is nurturing and freedom to learn.

Translating this to the workplace, managers who practise The power of pause, too will nurture young executives that will be respectful, independent and positive.

So, why pause?

1. Experience the full experience

The pause allows the child to experience the event and the emotion in totality. Be it anger, be it fear, be it excitement, these are all useful emotions for the child to experience. Only by experiencing it, will they know what it is and how to manage it the next time they encounter it.

In the workplace, executives will learn to experience a difficult situation: challenges from cross function teams, threats from colleagues, excitement of a new project, etc … and will help them to develop better Emotional Quotient (EQ) to better cope in similar future situations.

2. Independent learning

When a parent pauses for the child to pick himself up, to find the toy themselves, to fall back to sleep independently, the child will be learning a skill for the future. They will also learn independence, which is extremely important in society.

Similarly, independence in the workplace is highly valued. The ability for an executive to independently problem solve, complete a task and manage a situation is a fundamental skill that most to all hiring mangers look out for. So, don’t rob the opportunity to learn from them, by hurrying in to “save the day” on every occasion. If you can “afford” the mistake, financially or physically, give them the space to fall down and pick themselves up. Allow them to learn from their mistakes.

3. Failing is ok

Everyone wants success. Yet, we all know that before every success there would be many failures. Each failure is a learning experience and an opportunity to grow emotionally, learn new skills and develop a strong and resilient character. By pausing and letting the child or the executive fail, can be painful to watch, but in the long run, you know that it is beneficial to them. After all, society doesn’t only need successes, we also need people who are able to pick themselves up and keep on going … independently.


Think about who around you at work do you need to give pause to.

#ParentingIsTheNewMBA #SucceedAtWork #CareerTips #ParentingSkills

“Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column combines of 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.

“No” is the new “Yes”

"No" is the new "Yes"

We don’t say NO enough to our kids, to our colleagues, to our clients, … (we do say it most to ourselves!)

Anyone who is/was a parent of a toddler would surely recall countless situations where the kid (somehow super charged on steroids) constantly and repeatedly makes request to you. Can I have this? Can I have that? One piece will do? One more ok? etc … it is like a real-world DoS attack on the parent, till the parent times out and frustratingly agrees, “yes, yes, just take it and go.”

Maybe it’s the way we humans are wired, to be inherently nice. We say yes to colleagues request more often than not. We say yes to client’s request all the time. We say yes to demanding bosses. … the story goes on.

It is time to say: NO

No, you can’t have another cookie.

No, you can’t watch TV before bed.

No, I can’t help you with this project.

No, this is too last minute, our team needs at least 2 days to complete the proposal.

No, this is not up to standard.

No, I will not respond to email after work hours, call me if there is an urgent matter.

Saying “No”, helps setup boundaries to your work and allows you to focus on the task at hand. For the receiving party, it helps them to respect your time and also you as a person/colleague.

As a parent, it teaches your kids to respect you and that what you say matters.

By rejecting tasks allows you to focus on what’s really important and hence make a more significant difference.

Taking a saying from Steve Jobs,

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Ok, I’m not asking you to turn into a rude and unfriendly colleague, but to re-evaluate what requires your attention, and what can be delegated, re-assigned or simply turned away.

How do you evaluate if a task needs to get done?

1. Use Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle

Without going into too much details, work on the tasks that are urgent and important, and always try your very best to say “No” to the distractions and interruptions.

2. Is this a favour you need to give back, or is there a favour you need in the future?

Pay it forward with a helpful gesture, even if it means going out of your way. Perhaps, a colleague had helped you out before and needs your assistance this time round; or you foresee in the near future you require your colleagues help. Then it might be justifiable to give a “Yes”.

3. Do you have a direct interest in the matter?

Let’s say HR comes to enlist your help to organize the company party, and you, being the fun you, loves to party. Since it coincides with interest, why not jump in and nurture your interest at the same time. It could be as simple as being a event photographer, to more complex matters such as researching potential new markets to develop.

At the end of the day, you’ll have evaluate your priorities and determine where your time can be better spent.

Start saying No, and focus on what is truly important.

#ParentingIsTheNewMBA #SucceedAtWork #CareerTips #ParentingSkills

“Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column combines of 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.

Prepare for a proper on-boarding (delivery)

Prepare for a proper on-boarding (delivery)

You waited 10 months and now is time for the baby to be delivered. Now, the job really begins.

Most managers think that when the candidate has been hired, their job is done. This person will come to work and get to work immediately. This candidate should be independent, self-motivated and a do-er, and hence, can jump right into the deep end and get things done.

Well, it isn’t always this simple.

Just like delivering a baby, your job as a hiring manager has just begun when the candidate comes on-board.

1. Be prepared

Parents have a delivery bag that consists of all the essential items required for the delivery. They also have prepared the baby room, the bed, the clothing, etc, all in preparation and anticipation for the arrival of the little one.

For a company, welcome your new hire on the first day of work. Don’t leave them high and dry with no supervision. Make sure their work station is setup and their computers are ready for use. Give them guidance as to where to get information, or let them know who to approach. Also, you don’t always have to get the new hire to come in on Monday morning, if you think your company’s schedule is busiest on Monday. A Friday onboarding, when everyone is more relaxed, might also be a good option.

Linkedin has a whole section on the topic – on boarding:

If you use Trello for PM, then also have a look at this Trello example board:

2. Embrace them into the family

It is common for the extended family to all be excited about the new arrival, each taking turns to cuddle the baby. Translating to the work place, key stakeholders of the team should welcome the new hire. At the very least, a simple handshake and a quick chat, followed up later with a more formal catch up on what each individual is working on.

A welcome meal is also very useful to build that bond right from the beginning.

3. Setup a work plan

Parents setup a schedule for taking care of their baby, feeding time, pooping time, sleeping time, etc and your company should too. It needn’t be a down to the minute plan like for babies, but it needs to provide a framework to guide the new hire on what to focus on in the first few weeks. So things like WIPs, weekly reporting, etc can be scheduled.

4. Be flexible

Parents learn to be flexible to accommodate the arrival of the new baby. Companies should also allow themselves some flexibility when new hires come on-board. The new hire is learning to adapt and your role as hiring manager would be to be flexible and guide them in the right direction. Specifically, it is ok for mistakes early on and I will get to that in future posts. This is also the time to adjust to each other’s working style (think DISC).

Time to start preparing?

#ParentingIsTheNewMBA #SucceedAtWork #CareerTips #ParentingSkills

“Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column combines of 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.