“I handle notes no better than many others. But the pauses; that is where the art resides.” -Arthur Rubinstein


COMMENT: As one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Rubinstein knows the value of pauses in music. But pauses are important in other fields as well. For instance, performance psychologist Jim Loehr analyzed thousands of hours of video footage from professional tennis matches to determine what sets the world’s top players apart from everyone else. He could not detect any measurable differences in terms of how the athletes played their points. However, in a breakthrough he realized the difference was what the players did between points. The top players had very specific rituals that they repeated in precisely the same way every time (e.g., tapping the racket against the same foot, adjusting a headband in the same way, etc). The players who were merely good had no such habits. Following up on this Jim discovered that, using these rituals, the very best players were actually able to lower their heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute during the 16-20 seconds between each point, giving them a huge competitive edge. How can you better take advantage of brief pauses in your own life?

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