Leadership is Calling Episode #40
Heather McGonigal

The People Part Book Chapter 1: Self Leadership & the Power of the Pause

What if all it took was 90 seconds to transform your leadership?

Leadership Coach Heather McGonigal introduces the concept of “the power of the pause” – taking at least 90 seconds before reacting to reflect, settle your emotions, and respond from a place of self-leadership rather than reaction. This prevents wasting energy on misunderstandings and empowers you to show up focused and intentional.

In this video, Coach Heather dives into Chapter 1 of “The People Part” book by Annie Hyman Pratt, exploring:

– Why self-leadership is the foundation of effective teamwork
– How the “fight-flight-freeze” response can sabotage your communication
– The science behind the 90-second pause and its impact on decision-making
– Practical tips for implementing the pause in your daily interactions
– How to overcome burnout and unlock your full leadership potential

By incorporating the power of the pause, you can:

– Reduce misunderstandings and conflict
– Improve team communication and collaboration
– Make better decisions under pressure
– Boost your energy and avoid burnout
– Become a more effective and inspiring leader

Key Points
  • Pausing before reacting gives your brain time to settle emotions and think logically
  • Self-leadership prevents wasting energy on misunderstandings
  • The “power of the pause” takes only 90 seconds but has big impact
  • Pausing helps you align with how you want to show up as a leader
Related Resources

Buy the Book: The People Part by Annie Hyman Pratt
Leadership Skills: The People Part
Leadership Development Articles: Become Aware of Your Own Self-Protection  |  Recognizing When You Are in Self-Protection
Downloadable Leadership Tool: The Key Basics of Agreements

The Power of the Pause: Pause button cartoon - Leading Edge Teams

Auto-Generated Transcript – unedited version

The People Part Book Chapter 1: Self Leadership & the Power of the Pause


Hi, everyone. Coach Heather here and I am going to be introducing you to the people part book and some of the key teachings in it. Have you ever communicated via a project management software? Or maybe you use Slack or WhatsApp and you get a communication from your team member, maybe your CEO? It’s about a really high stakes project and you jump in and you answer it right away and then you get some kind of response back that feels like, why did they respond that way? And all of a sudden you’re in a big misunderstanding with a teammate. And when you pause and you look back, you actually even misunderstood their question.

Have you ever moved so fast with the help of technology that you have misunderstood and missed a key point while working with others? That’s what I’d like to know, because I have had it happen to me and I coach leaders within entrepreneurial companies every day. And there are so many scenarios where the temperature gets a little too high between people working on teams together. And it’s really just a misunderstanding from moving fast.

So then how do you work with that? With the help of the people part book, I want to start with chapter one. We talk about self leadership and we in this book, we’ve based every chapter has an agreement. And the first agreement is that we as team members, we are consistent, we show up in self leadership rather than self protection. This is the basis of good critical thinking. It’s the basis of team performance at its best, and it’s the basis of taking the most effective action towards our goals. Right? So this is why self leadership matters.

But self leadership matters because we don’t want to waste our resources, our energy in misunderstanding. If your company is anything like the companies that I work with every day, you’re trying to do as much as you can with limited resources. So let’s get some of that time back by having you really clearly align and cut out any misunderstandings that happen from moving fast.

So how do you do that? I’m going to introduce you to the power of the pause. Okay, so it’s very simple, but in order to do it, you first have to build a practice of recognizing when your emotions are triggered. And you’re feeling like moving fast. So your emotions are driving your thoughts and your actions. This is our default mode. As human beings. It’s our fight flight freeze response that was designed to keep us safe from immediate danger, from physical danger.

The challenges that it does not properly interpret or help us with some modern day scenarios, especially the types we face within business, like how to interpret different team members, body language and interaction in team meetings. If our amygdala, our fight flight freeze response are more primitive, brain interprets that it can make up all kinds of stories, stories that aren’t even happening.

So we want you as leaders to be able to pause so that you can show up in self leadership. Now, this power, the pause, all we need is 90 seconds. This is supported by brain science, but the brain needs about 90 seconds for the communication to get from your amygdala to your prefrontal cortex. So 90 seconds isn’t a long time, but have you ever watched a clock and had to wait 90 seconds? Then you get to experience it actually is an amount of time and it is a good amount of time for settling the emotional energy so that you can then reassess what are the facts of the situation. And what am I facing? Where can I be a positive impact, an influence, and what is my choice here?

So all of that, that thinking, when you’re able to think like that about a situation you are facing, you are in self leadership and you are empowered because no matter what else is happening, you are aligning with how you really want to choose to show up.

So the thing that I’ve noticed though is as humans we can forget that we have choice. We forget it doesn’t feel that way. Where we’re trying to get everything done with business, with our family, with other expectations, and we’re just pushed. We’re feeling that push and we can spend a lot of our time in that more emotionally reactive state. And the thing is that we know that that leads to burnout, moving from fire to fire to fire to fire leads to burnout. And we do need to break that cycle.

So it is very important and it’s the beginning of our teaching and in chapter one of the People Path book you showing up in self leadership gives you a key advantage and it also gives you energy back. Do you want energy back? I do. So I want you to practice this power of the pause and how you’re going to practice it now is just for the next week. I want you to be intentional. Take a post-it note, write the power, the pause, put it somewhere you can see it now before you choose to respond.

So when you’re in different scenarios in your role at work and they’re feeling high stakes and you’re feeling that pressure and you have a response, pause, you may still choose to proceed as you initially intended, but I want you to pause so you can be sure you’re in your best critical thinking, your prefrontal cortex, and that you’re making the choice from a more linear, logical place, not an emotionally driven place.

All right. So thank you. I hope you’ll practice the power of the pause. And please share with me how that works for you and pick up the book so you can get more tools on how to be showing up in self leadership.

The People Part by Annie Hyman Pratt

Scroll to Top