Noise. Unrelenting, mind-numbing, energy-sucking, priority-fogging noise. To illustrate this, imagine hearing some light music that soothes your soul. Then add a little bit of white noise to rough it up a bit. Next, imagine a voice that says, “honey don’t forget the soccer game on Saturday,” and then a deeper voice that says, “revenues are up in the Eastern division, but profits margins are still declining.” By now, you can undoubtedly begin to hear the voices of the many constituents in your life that bring our illustration to a crescendo in the blaring busyness we call life. Lastly, in one instant, cut it all and allow yourself to experience 5 seconds of dead silence. Just long enough to physically exhale from the relief.
The Power of Silence
We don’t tend to proactively create “sacred” spaces in our life to quiet the noise and reflect on the bigger picture:
- What’s it all about?
- What am I really trying to accomplish?
- What’s working and not working in my life and business right now?
Whether it’s a day a month to get out of the office, an hour a week at lunch to talk about the important stuff, 10 minutes a day to sit quietly in a chair, or any other discipline of proactively creating quiet and reflective space, we need to stop the noise occasionally. The sustained absence of reflection in our lives invariably leads to inefficiency, limited accomplishment, and ultimately fatigue, frustration, and burn-out. Whether I am speaking with a CEO about his or her strategic initiatives or to an individual about their marriage or spiritual journey, the biggest competitor is noise. Having my life, my actions, my business be driven by external issues de jour, instead of what’s truly most important.
I like to think I am a talented CEO Advisor and that my Vistage CEO peer advisory board comes up with brilliant solutions for its fellow members. But then I wonder. Maybe I’m not actually as good as I think I am. Maybe we have much less to do with each other’s breakthroughs than I think we do. Maybe I/we simply represent a time on top executives’ calendars to stop the noise, reflect on what’s important to them, and say it out loud. Perhaps it’s not my brilliant insights or their peers’ cumulative leadership experience that makes the difference. Is it possible that the true gift we provide is a safe place and a sacred listening for them to reduce their spinning thoughts to language? Whatever the reason, I can tell you that magic happens when busy people slow down, reflect, map the contents of their own thinking, and then intentionally choose what’s next.
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