Stop. Revive. Survive.

DSC_1013When you drive around countryside New South Wales, Australia, you will undoubtedly notice the many billboard signs with a ‘Stop. Revive. Survive.’ message. These signs urge drivers to take a break during long drives to refresh and rejuvenate.

You might think it is ‘common sense’ to stop and revive during long drives. However, as Shawn Achor says in his book The Happiness Advantage “Common sense is not common action… The fact of the matter is, positive habits are hard to keep, no matter how commonsensical they might be.” Achor states as an evidence for his claim that 44% of doctors are overweight despite the fact they know more than anyone else the importance of exercise.

So, why we ignore the ‘Stop. Revive. Survive.’ advice? Apparently, we focus on the ‘goal’ to reach our destination as quickly as we can. While it is a good thing to arrive at our destination early, it is certainly better to arrive more relaxed and energetic to enjoy the destination, not to mention the risk of not arriving at all.

Kevin Cashman provides a similar advice to business leaders in his book The Pause Principle. Cashman clearly articulates that today’s leaders should take enough time to deeply pause before acting. He argues that we need to pause not only to grow as leaders, but also to develop others and foster a culture of innovation.

You may say that we don’t have time to pause because we are living in an agile world where we need to maintain a fast pace. Cashman responds to this argument by asserting that pausing will help leaders create vision, understanding, clarity and agility; and therefore deliver better results, faster. Leaders who intentionally and consciously step back and go deeply into themselves and the world they touch, usually lead forward with deliberate purpose. This will give leaders and their teams the ability to stop the speeding train of business before it derails. In other words, it is a sort of ‘Stop. Revive. Survive. your Business’.

Robert Holden in his interesting book Success Intelligence promotes the same idea from a different perspective. Holden claims that Permanent Busyness is not intelligent. Holden stresses the importance of taking time out of your busy schedule to punctuate your business. Holden demonstrates in his book the value of White Space: the 20 minutes that busy people should take every day as a thinking time for vision, re-evaluation, and making sure they are living and working wisely. In other words, ‘Stop. Revive. Survive. your Business’.

Stop. Revive. Survive.’ is not just a slogan, it might literally help you survive while driving long distance or running your business. Allan McDonald tried to do that, but failed. If McDonald was successful in stopping the ‘speeding train of business’ he would have prevented the Challenger disaster back in 1986. Those who watched the disaster live on television on 24 January 1986 will never forget how a mission that was supposed to reignite a passion for space exploration turned into a horrific event in just 73 seconds, and claimed the lives of seven astronauts including a schoolteacher.

McDonald worked for the company that NASA hired to make the shuttle’s solid-engine rocket boosters. But a crucial component of the boosters, the dividers known as O-rings, had never been tested at ambient temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. If the O-rings didn’t seal the joints of the boosters properly, the boosters would explode and kill everyone on board the shuttle.

On the evening before the launch, the weather forecast in Cape Canaveral, Florida, called for temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. McDonald was concerned about the O-rings not working properly and warned NASA about the dangers of proceeding, but NASA wanted to move forward anyway. McDonald strongly protested this decision and refused to sign the document that would have allowed the launch to proceed. His boss signed for him – in order to not stop the speeding train of business. The launch proceeded as planned, with fatal consequences.

Stop. Revive. Survive. Or as Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

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