Take a time out, maintain your focus

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By Bob Mueller

 As a true Kentuckian, I love basketball. And I love all aspects of the game – the three point shot, the slam dunk, rebounding, good defense, court positioning, and the beauty of a well-executed play. 

But maybe the greatest move in basketball that turns around more games is the time-out. The time-out can halt the opponent’s momentum, give your team a chance to rest or calculate a way to score an easy bucket.

There are many opportunities during times of stress to take a break from the action. Be on the lookout for them. In the midst of an argument, a tense meeting, or as you prepare for an important interview, take a time-out.

Simply excuse yourself momentarily from the action. Stroll into the next room, wander outside for a moment – it’s merely a question of going somewhere else for a few seconds. A good bet is the bathroom. No one will deny you and no one will suspect you. It’s the perfect way to a time-out. 

“Excuse me a moment, I’ll be right back,” you say as you knowingly nod and head for the head. Lock the door if you can, and stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself, kindly. Then breathe, smile at yourself and say what you need to hear: “Keep in mind your ultimate goals here and you’ll get through this just fine. Just fine!” Then breathe again. Then return to the stressful meeting. It’s give the others a break too.

The essence of a time-out, in the bathroom or anywhere, is to get time alone exactly when you need it, in the middle of something stressful.

The stress involved can even be good stress. During a large reception, or holiday celebration, family reunion, or party, we also have need for a moment of stillness, to remember the meaning of the event, to be more awake to its importance. 

I can almost guarantee that the outcome will be better with the time-out than without it. The challenge is to remember to do it. And always remember that a time-out is doing nothing well.

So there you are: facing the Mountain of Too Much in the form of a desk piled high with so much work that it is difficult to estimate how long you’ll need to finish it. It’s a moment for a time-out at the foot of the Mountain.

Take a deep breath. Another. I will just be still for a moment.

Close your eyes. What is past is past, I let go. Who knows what lies ahead? Now I will do as much as I can, as well as I can.

Talk assuredly to yourself. This is my life right now. I have a Mountain of Too Much in front of me. But this burden too will pass.

Count your blessings. I am grateful that I have work, that it’s a beautiful day. And then start climbing the mountain, a little more confident, a little less weary, because you took a time-out.


Bob Mueller is the vicee president of development for Hosparus. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.