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Pause and Reflect to Imagine New Paths

Pause and Reflect to Imagine New Paths

I think one of the greatest technological advancements in my lifetime is the pause feature on machines of all sorts and electronic devices.

Whether it is the ability to throw one or two more items into a wash load or dishwasher at the last minute or my all-time favorite of stopping a television show or sporting event mid action and then coming back to it (sometimes in a totally different room) when I am ready- the thrill has never worn off.

Growing up the closest thing that came to the pause feature was a game of freeze tag in the back yard, but now nearly everything can be stopped and restarted.  We are used to a fast-paced life that requires an occasional break in the action, mainly to multi-task and then come back to our original focus.  Pausing devices allows us to do more, faster.

When it comes to this non-human pausing everything stops frozen in time.  And as cool as I find this feature I have recently discovered human pausing is where the real magic lies.  This type of pause slows us down and allows us to reflect.

Recently I came across a quote from Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, which advises global businesses on ethics and leadership.  In Thomas L. Friedman’s new book Thank You for Being Late, Seidman shares, “When you press a pause button on a machine it stops, but when you press the pause button on human beings they start.  You start to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible, and most importantly you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs.  Once you have done that, you can begin to imagine a better path.”

But he doesn’t leave it there, he stresses “what matters most is what you do in the pause.”

This concept is the basis of Friedman’s book and he shares a compelling story of taking a pause to connect with a parking attendant, when all he really wanted to do was get on with his day.  That pause launched a relationship that was beneficial to both and without the pause he would have missed meeting an Ethiopian blogger who was trying to change the world.  This encounter led him to bigger questions that shaped his book.

When we work with individual and corporate donors on their charitable and philanthropic strategies we urge them to pause and reflect.  Many of them have been giving to the same organizations and causes for many years but have not stopped to consider how they can best impact their favorite nonprofits.

Recently we heard from a donor who was attending a community event and paused to speak with a couple they had never met who had recently started a nonprofit organization.

The donor reached out to us to contribute to the organization from the donor’s fund at the foundation the next week.  He said he would have never learned of the nonprofit’s work if he hadn’t made the point to meet the couple and start up an unexpected conversation.

Some of the best ideas come when end-users, donors and nonprofit leaders come together to pause and reflect on what the next best step is for their partnership.

Taking the time to step away, or slow down can seem counter intuitive in today’s fast paced world, but making the most of a pause can send us on a better path.

If you are looking for a pause moment to consider your values and interests in charitable giving, I would love to hear from you and help you make the most of a pause.  Reach out at [email protected]


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit or call 239-274-5900.



Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More