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The Counter Intuitive Way To Get A Breakthrough…

“Taking a break can lead to breakthroughs.

Twenty years ago I was a young executive working with a large multi-national and I was keen to make an impression. At one point I was given responsibility to bring new robotic technology into an aspect of the business. It was exciting but also challenging as there were multiple challenges to making a success of the project.

A few weeks out from the go live date, I was very frustrated as I’d hit a problem I couldn’t see a solution to. I’d been working long hours and not really managing myself well, I was very tired as well. But there was a lot riding on the project so I kept ‘pushing’.

My manager checked in on me at one point and after listening to my ‘woes’ suggested something very surprising – I should take the afternoon off.

Bear in mind that this was the opposite of what would normally be expected as there was still a lot to go through and everyone was under pressure.

When I resisted with some excuses he interrupted me and said:

“This isn’t a suggestion, Shane. It’s an order. You’re tired and not thinking clearly. Take the afternoon off. Go for a walk on the beach, meet a friend for lunch. But switch off. Come back in tomorrow recharged.”

So that’s what I did. And later that afternoon, as I sat with a friend enjoying a late lunch, a solution to my ‘insolvable’ problem came to me, out of the blue.

And I returned to the business the next morning with a spring in my step, shared the solution with others involved and we all realised that it would speed up the project and also cut costs.

I remember at the time being perplexed at to how this had happened.

I understand the mechanics of it now because it has happened to me so many times since, and for my clients.

There is an innate intelligence beneath our busy personal minds, and when we ‘let go’, and break the previous patterns of thought, we create the conditions for something new to come in: an idea, a solution, an insight.


we have to let go. And often that’s the real challenge.

There are times when you have to burn the midnight oil and push through. But it’s not a sustainable strategy for success and wellbeing.

Being willing to stop, take a break, or whatever you need to do, to just let something go, and give yourself even a ‘mini-break’ is often the last thing you want to do but very often it’s THE thing to do.

Many people I know have under-estimated the toll this pandemic has taken on their energy and mental charge. Even unconsciously, it has been, and still is a lot to process mentally and emotionally. Part of the learning is to know when to step back and take a ‘pit-stop’

What’s a breakthrough worth to you?



New Article: How Do You Lead When You Don’t Have All The Answers? Printed in Decision Ireland this week. Read here.

Relaxation/Meditation For Leaders on Tuesday 23rd June 7.40am Irish time):

No previous experience needed. Join me on Instagram live where I’ll be doing a meditation for leaders/achievers. When you see top performing business leaders and top sports people exploring meditation to get the edge, more clarity and focus, it’s time to take notice and at least give it a try…

**Note time change to 7.40am Irish time – the video will be recorded and put on Instagram for that day.

Online Academy: Check out useful online talks and courses to help you accelerate your personal and professional development. See here.

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