Stop. Look. Listen.

It’s amazing how adverts can stick in your memory. Random bits of information that you don’t actually need (don’t mention the red car and the blue car, otherwise I will sing the full advert to you!)

But some old adverts are helpful, even to this day.

In 1970 the Green Cross Code campaign was introduced in Great Britain. And whilst I wasn’t quite yet born, I can vividly remember the GCC man, his robot and the instructions.

Find a safe place to cross.

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

Hopefully you all know this and use it when out and about.

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

You probably do and don’t think about it much.

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

Three simple words.

“The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. The audience of this form of text is also thereby more likely to remember the information conveyed because having three entities combines both brevity and rhythm with having the smallest amount of information to create a pattern.” (Wikipedia)

It’s why we remember the stop, look, listen pattern with ease.

So much so that it came up in a recent coaching conversation with a client.

We were looking at ways for her to check in with where she was at and find out what she needs. Rather than ‘running’ from one thing to the next, which many of us find ourselves doing.

She has a busy work schedule and other demands on her time, and again as so many of us do, she was forgetting to check in with herself. Forgetting to ask, “How am I doing?”

We jump to answering that question quickly with ‘tired’, ‘fed-up’ or the 21st century mantra ‘busy’. And these may be true answers, but are they how you are right now or how you were ten minutes ago or last night?

Stop.

It’s more like pause, really.

Pause and check in, ‘How am I right now?’

And look for the most accurate way of describing it. Often we use common words e.g. anxiety/anxious or depressed when it would be more accurate to state that you are worried or sad.

Look.

Within. Both body and thinking mind. What’s going on?

Tension? Over thinking? Relaxed body?

Without judgment notice.

Listen.

To both. Listen to what the body is telling you and what the thinking mind is up to.

And then you can ‘cross the road’ or take whatever action is needed. You may not be able to take that action immediately, e.g. when you check in you realise just how tired you are, you may not be able to go to bed or snatch a nanna nap right now, but you can be aware.

Give yourself a break. Some fresh air.

Recognise that you may not find a solution with a full mind, so a brief meditation may be called for.

Just like the Green Cross Code man advised, as you are crossing the road, taking that action, keep looking and listening, as you are always getting feedback. Both body and thinking mind are giving information, but are you listening?

As the catch phrase is so well established – STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. – this could be an easy new habit to add into your life. And the best way to do that is attach it to something else you do a few times a day.

  • put the kettle on
  • go to the toilet
  • eat
  • have a drink

There are a number of small actions that you take every day that happen with much thought, and when you attach the STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. check in to that habit, then it becomes easier to be aware of your needs.