Leadership And The Art Of Silence

It’s not about what you say, but what you hear

In corporate life we are in serious danger of believing that those who talk the loudest win the day. Twenty years in business have taught me that leaders who can actually keep their mouths shut and ears open have a better chance of being heard, believed and followed.

Transplanting Monastic Practices

When I lived in the monastery as a Catholic priest, we had a spiritual practice called the “Grand Silence.” Each evening after dinner and night prayer, we would retire to our cells under a cloak of silence that reigned until after Mass the following morning. It was spiritual time spent reflecting on life, death and one’s relationship to the Divine — a chance to grapple with the dynamic tension between human frailty and the personal call to holiness. While religious reading was tolerated, we were encouraged to spend the time creatively doing nothing. The Roman philosopher, Cato, once said, “Never am I more active than when I do nothing.” Granted, he wasn’t a monk, but he was articulating one of life’s golden truths. In sacred silence, we have a chance to hear an alternative voice beyond our self-serving subconscious. There are certain messages that will only be revealed in darkness and uncluttered space. Those who have the fortitude and faith to wait there are often abundantly rewarded.

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