We are moving into the second half of the year and so many clients are sounding exhausted and overwhelmed. It is not surprising with the fast pace of life and the amount of stress we are expected to operate under. While most of us can’t change the external environment – the deadlines aren’t suddenly going to disappear and, in South Africa, load shedding isn’t going anywhere – we can change the way we respond. In fact, as Dr Victor Frankel said, “In the space between stimulus and response, lies our ultimate human freedom. The power to choose how we respond.” All too often we give that power away because we think about how we could’ve responded after the fact. We live reactively instead of being RESPONSE-ABLE, pausing and stepping into our own authority – and being the authors of our stories. We forget the power of the pause.

Let’s take Key Steps this week, stand in our own power and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


  1. Be realistic. Set boundaries. Say NO. Challenge deadlines. Prioritise. Negotiate. If you are not doing these things, ask yourself why not? Take Key Steps to overcome barriers in the way because if you are taking on unrealistic expectations without rigorously challenging them, you set yourself up for overwhelm, unnecessary stress and possible burnout. Is continual exhaustion and overwhelm worth it?

  2. Ask for support. Delegate. Get input when prioritising. Know that asking for support is not a sign of weakness and does not mean you don’t want to get your hands dirty. I see with my executive coaching practice: When leaders take Key Steps to ask for support is usually a sign of maturity, confidence and a willingness to let go and empower others, or simply about being realistic (see point 1) and refusing to burnout and neglect self and family.

  3. Pause and breathe. You really can’t afford not to. When we get busy and overwhelmed, we forget to pause and breathe, we lose focus, we operate from fight and flight with too much adrenaline and cortisol (to name a few) running through our systems. We can’t think straight and definitely can’t execute to the best of our abilities. When you pause and breathe (which feels like it slows you down), you actually go faster because you lower your stress hormones and increase things like testosterone, which gives us confidence in our thinking and ability to act.

  4. Remind yourself that you can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You are the person you will have the most conversations with during the course of your life. What do you say to yourself? Do you regularly hear the voice of a friend or a foe. All too often, we are hard on ourselves and get stuck in patterns of destructive thinking (like taking others’ behaviour personally, being overly critical or negative ruminating). Watch the stories you tell yourself. You can add to your anxiety and stress, or you can create a more peaceful inner world. I am not suggesting that you live in la la land or become naïve, but I am reminding you that you and you alone have control of your thoughts. There is power in the pause… turn down the volume on what is not serving you and take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.



NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’