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The letter to pause AI that was issued this week by tech leaders—with over 1,100 signatures including big names I don’t need to repeat here—feels a bit like leaving the teenagers home alone with a full liquor cabinet and telling them to babysit each other. Which is to say I’m not convinced this isn’t just a bit of a PR stunt to distract the parents at one house while the party goes on at the other.

But, I 100% believe in The Power of the Pause as a core principle of regenerative leadership: leadership inspired by the wisdom of nature, that not only does no harm, but also, leaves things better. If tech leaders—those in AI and across the sector—really are driven to make the world a better place, as so many claim, then regenerative leadership is the only form of leadership that will actually lead to success, and the pause is a critical stage of the process.

As Nature shows us, the pause creates room for rest and recovery, both integral for success. This is true for human and non-human ecosystems. Think of how you feel after a good massage. Think of the plant world, in which the pause allows for natural succession, when pioneer species, such as lichens, mosses, and ferns, establish themselves in a disturbed area, enrich the soil as they decompose, and make it more hospitable for other species to grow. This process continues until a climax community, which is a stable and diverse community of plants and animals, is established. We humans would not be here without this process. 

Just as the role of the pause in nature’s regenerative process is crucial for the health and sustainability of our planet, a pause must be included not just in AI engineering and strategic planning but also considered as a fundamental aspect of leadership in the tech space; for all of those who are part of the ecosystem building algorithms and making coding choices that ripple around the world impacting not just the lives of current citizenry but the future of human life on earth. 

Consider the tech exodus of late; not just the layoffs but the countless departures of stressed, sick, tired, burned out workers who just don’t have any more to give and know their system is out of whack; the adrenal-rush-addicted leaders who are too frayed and ego-driven to look at the big picture and innovate in ways that will really drive success that includes a legacy of positive impact.

As a regenerative leader—the only exemplary, inspiring, and looked-up-to leader there will be if we are to have a future together—you look at your team, your company, as an ecosystem. Of course you take time out for the pause, because you know that will lead to more fertile, productive, healthy, and regenerative growth. You create pause for your teams too, and they stand by you, more inspired, innovative, and impactful.

I just returned from a weeklong Vision Quest in the high desert near Joshua Tree, including two solo nights. With bear scat near my tent. The howl of coyotes at night. Mountain lions not too far away. Oh, and while fasting. Water allowed. Inspired by thousands-year-old Indigenous traditions, the Vision Quest is an intense pause out of the day-to-day that is “normal” life. It is about giving deep thanks. It is grounding, inspiring, and reminds you of your ultimate connection to a web even greater than the World Wide Web: the sacred Web of Life of which we are all a part. I started going when I was 13; every time I return with what I call Vision Quest eyes, the ability to see where I need to go, what I need to do, next. 

The pause can be more than not just a step away from the AI race. What we can learn from nature and the power of the pause, for AI and the future of tech, cannot be overemphasized. The pause can be a time to connect with the deep, deep wisdom of Nature and then, your own inner wisdom and vision. It can be a time of vision questing and regeneration that makes you a much better leader, and the world a truly better place. The pause should become an integral part of all leadership current and future, in tech and beyond. I invite you to join me in becoming a regenerative leader, recognizing and using the power of the pause in your company today.

CONNECT TODAY to learn more about Regenerative Leadership and the Power of the Pause.