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When you put on a play, regardless of whether it’s a cute, elementary-school production or a full Broadway musical, you practice. You practice for weeks and weeks learning lines, choreography, blocking, and so many intricate details that make the show everything that it is billed to be. Rehearsals go late into the evening, tempers flare, and people get tired.
Because you are doing the same things over and over again. And no matter how new or exciting the adventure was in the beginning, time and repetition seem to suck the grandiose spirit from the production. At some point, everyone flips the switch into “Get-It-Done” mode and you might lose perspective that what you are a part of is larger than yourself.
Until opening night.
That’s when the butterflies come back. That’s when you have to rely on all the training. And in the moment you fall back on all of the countless hours of practice and you just slip into character and things just happen. The lines come, the choreography flows, and you don’t skip a beat.
But if you’re not careful you can end up blowing right through the important moments because you’ve been there before. You deliver a hilarious line and, if you’re not careful, you can continue on without allowing time for the audience to react. The laughter might startle you and throw you off because it hasn’t been there before.
The laughter interrupts your flow.
But it’s supposed to.
It’s supposed to be there. It’s a good thing. It’s the right thing.
But we have practiced without it for so long, that we forget to pause for effect. We forget that the audience hasn’t experienced it like we have time and time again. We forget this is something new and fresh for them.
We forget to pause for the laughter.
And the same thing happens in business every day. You trudge through the everyday grind, doing the same things over and over again, forgetting what you are doing actually makes an impact on those around you.
We forget to pause and see the impact we have in our sphere of influence.
This happened for me recently when I was looking at a brochure I designed. I was looking at all of the things I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve changed and nit-picking it apart when a co-worker mentioned how many calls she received from customers raving about the design. Some of them even displayed them in their offices.
I was taken aback.
I had been caught up in the details for so long I had forgotten that what I do is inspiring to others and I have a circle of influence that reaches further than I was aware.
As leaders, it is our job to help those we lead not lose sight of that perspective.
We have to be on the lookout for opportunities to help show people why what they do matters and how it’s having an impact. Because the nature of work, no matter how much you love what you do, can make it monotonous with time.
We have to look for moments in the mundane
to remind people that there is purpose in what they do.
Because, as a leader, it is our job to help awaken that vision and remind those we lead it’s never just about the work; there’s always something more. It’s not just auditing financial statements; it’s making a difference in someone’s life. It’s not just data entry; it’s about the impact it can have on the world. It’s not just about grading papers; it’s about inspiring someone to be the best version of themselves they can be.
It’s about pausing… for laughter.