When Was The Last Time You Took a Time-Out?

“What are all the possible reasons a basketball coach would call a time-out during a game?” I asked. “To change momentum,” says Mary.

“To change up the strategy,” adds Miles.

“To give the players a rest,” yells Tyson.

“Maybe to draw up a special play,” inserts Jason.

“Why else?” I ask.

“To substitute players,” smiles Sandy.

“And why would you want to change-up players?” I ask.

“Perhaps the dynamics between the team out on the court just wasn’t jiving,” she says.

The group laughs.

“So there are numerous reasons then to call a time out during a game.”

Everyone nods.

“Well, I want you to view these three days that we’ll be together for the Leading From Within program as your time-out. You get a chance to assess what’s working in your life…what’s not…and to decide what adjustments, if any, need to be made before you get back into the game of life. And remember…you’re the coach and it’s your time out.”

The above example is typically how I would open up the Leading From Within program. The time-out analogy in particular is a powerful reminder of the importance of self-reflection; a process, in my opinion, that we need to be utilizing much more.

There are four simple questions to ask during the time-out:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not?
  3. What can I do differently?
  4. How do I make that happen?

Personally, I think we should be asking ourselves the questions above on a regular basis...and not just on a surface level either. In fact, let’s break down the questions even more…

1.     What’s working:

  • Am I passionate about what matters most to me? Is my passion evident to others?
  • When was the last time I really felt joyful? What was happening? Can I be joyful every day?
  • What’s my purpose? Am I living a purposeful life? How would I know?
  • Have I surrounded myself with the people who matter most to me? Am I getting the support I need? Am I giving the support they need? When was the last time I told someone I loved them?
  • What do I want my legacy to be? What impact have I had on the lives of others?
  • Am I showing up in life as the person I most want to be? Why or why not?

2.     What’s not working:

  • What’s preventing me from being me?
  • When I’m struggling, what’s happening?
  • Do I ever sabotage myself from being successful? If so, what’s that about?
  • What’s difficult for me to do and why?
  • Who are the people who trigger me the most? What is it about them…or me…that creates this?
  • At the end of the day, what do I really see when I look at the person staring back at me in the mirror?

3.     What can I do differently:

  • What’s the biggest barrier preventing me from being the person I am meant to be? What will it take to break-through that barrier?
  • If I could change one thing, what would that be and why?
  • Is there anything I should consider that I’m not considering?
  • What am I willing to do to change the pattern that I’m in right now? What would that look like?
  • What am I doing for others and what could I be doing for them?

4.     How do I make that happen:

  • Am I interested or committed to making a change? What could I do now to demonstrate my commitment?
  • What do I need to do to stay on course?
  • Who are the people who I need the most support from? Do they know it? Can I, and will I ask for their support?
  • How will I hold myself accountable?
  • Ultimately, how will I know if I’m successful?

Can you see the importance of answering these time-out questions?

Too often we don’t take the necessary time-out to really assess our lives in a meaningful and purposeful way. Instead we wait to ponder the deeper questions in life while on our way to a friend’s funeral, wondering what people would say about us if it we had been the one who died.

I don’t get it! Why wait until it’s too late? Don’t we have an obligation to ourselves to know ourselves? And don’t we have an obligation to others to be ourselves?

So what are you waiting for? Grab a pen, a journal, the questions above, and take a much needed time-out to ponder your life and your place in it. And when you return, be prepared to share your insights with the people who matter most to you. After all, how can they support you if they don’t know what you stand for!