It’s August 25, 2018. I was from an assemblage with a group of 12 very dynamic and talented young leaders to learn about how our different backgrounds and experiences connected us to the same professional space—the Atlas Corps fellowship in NY. While I was there, everyone was having a good time; it was amazing to listen to fellows share their incredible journeys and how they are challenging the status quo. We chatted for a while and departed.
My two close friends and I went to a famous spot in downtown Manhattan at the Rockefeller park a few minutes from the Oculus on the E train. Known for its beautiful view of Jersey City and a breath-taking sunset, it was the perfect spot to conclude the day with some deep conversations about our experiences and post-fellowship plans. A few minutes into our discussion one of my friends came to me and told me “Patrick, thank you for everything that you did for me today, but **I HATE YOU!**
Her words left a unique impression on me. What she told me made me recall conversations that I had with my good friend a few years back and when I was joining the Monitoring and Evaluation space with the Global Health Corps—we all HATED non-profits because of the rampant injustices in project implementation and unethical reporting of impact and measures of success.
I quickly rushed to the men’s room so I could pause and reflect on what I had just learned. I was feeling emotional, and I wanted to let my thinking catch up to my feelings, so I started asking myself some profound questions:
— How was I feeling? The answer was sad—living with people who didn’t believe in me had caused discouragement and distrust—it’s had to get along with people who don’t trust you.
— What could I do? I could show her my heart. Maybe for some reason, no one had told her that people cared about her.
— How could I do that? I could help her understand that even if others had never valued her, she could become a better leader to add value to others. Which is the secret sauce to leadership in the 21st century—value-based servant leadership for improving the human condition.
I then took a moment and prayed to God to support me to deliver this message. I went back to the group and greeted everyone again, but this time differently. I said—”Hi, my name is Patrick, and I’m your friend.” I said it sincerely.
At first, everyone was not sure how to react to this statement, but they laughed in anticipation. By the close of the day, the young woman who said she hated me was loose, happy, and smiling to me. That’s when I realized the power of a pause.
Most of the times we are consumed by the environment and influenced by things that are beyond our control. It is essential that we make time to and find a place to pause and reflect. Finding time and place to reflect allows us to record thoughts and experiences that flashes into our brains and use them in a way that fosters growth.
Coca-Cola used to have a slogan “the pause that refreshes.” I believe that this is accurately what reflection should mean to someone who wants to grow. Learning how to pause allows growth to catch up with us.