By: Todd Demorest, Odyssey Teams Chief Facilitation Officer

Pop your ears lately? A short and sweet lesson on slowing down for more effective leadership

We lived on the Big Island of Hawaii and our house was down on the beach – sea level. The closest town (Waimea – of Parker Ranch fame) was a 15-20 minute drive up the slopes of the Kohala mountains at 2,500 feet above sea level. My wife, family, and I made this drive frequently.

One morning as I was driving up the hill with the sun rising over Mauna Kea for a meeting with leaders from the community, I noticed the need to pop/clear my ears. This was not new, though this time I realized something…I shouldn’t be popping my ears.

Why, because I’m not supposed to be ascending the hill so fast. I’m supposed to be walking or maybe on a horse or mule at best. Going up the hill more SLOWLY. That is how my body (this gift) is/was designed to go up hills. At a pace that is gradual enough that my body can adapt to the pressure changes in a smooth efficient manner.

Where else am I moving/ascending unnaturally too fast that it is causing enough stress that I have to intervene? How do I intervene and deal with the stress? Sure, I can do it, survive, crunch down and ‘git ‘er done’ and maybe instead of popping my ears, I could:

– Take ibuprofen every day for my 1 pm headache

– See a chiropractor 3 times a week

– Wear a tooth guard at night

– Take something to help me sleep

– Get edgy towards my internal/external customers and/or the people I say I care most about

-or… you fill in the blank

Regardless, I have to do something to cope with the velocity and capacity that I am attempting to deal with. Some choices…


  • 1. Reduce the speed – speed kills.
  • 2. Reduce the capacity- I don’t have to, nor can I do it all.
  • 3. Pause for 30 seconds, take a breath, notice my shoulders are raised to my ears or that my jaw is tense or that I’m excessively gripping the steering wheel, etc. etc. and then release the noticeable tension with an exhale.

But, as Grammy Award winner James Taylor says:

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it….” Take a moment and listen to the whole song.

Slow down. Pause. You and the people you live and work with are worth it.

P.S. Step 3 above works best. Do it first, at least 3 times a day.

Todd’s lesson in slowing down is a part of every Odyssey Teams program he facilitates.  Leaders need to slow down to be effective and Todd offers humble reminders of this fact into his program messaging.  It’s easy for him to do this because living life with an intentional pace is how Todd rolls.

For more information on Odyssey Teams’ effective leadership programs, you can reach us at or 800 – 342-1650.