I read Ryan Holiday's Stillness is the Key this past week, the last in his trilogy. I like the book series, not surprising since it reminds me of my own Bite-Sized Entrepreneur trilogy. Another notable book of his, The Daily Stoic, was my favorite book for years.
However, only one line stood out in Stillness is the Key. It will be my mantra for the near future.
Get lost. Be unreachable. Go slowly.
Whew, this stopped me in my tracks. Here's why these six words can give you clarity in times of confusion.
Any memorable leader, from Jesus and Buddha to Yoda and King Arthur, has a period of confusion, disillusionment or chaos. There is time lost in the desert, years off in a swamp or decades out of the public eye. They come back with all the insight that turns them into leaders.
But first, they allowed the path to present itself. That takes time.
With respect to Elon Musk, insight isn't found in 100-hour workweeks or staring at a computer screen until the best solution jumps out. You aren't always going to have the answer right away. In fact, the answer is often just out of your mindframe, left of center, and getting frustrated only pushes it further away from you.
Embrace that you won't know the smartest move right away. Embrace that perhaps you're not supposed to.
This past weekend I left Facebook. The ethics are concerning, as is the ROI in the time spent on it - I explained this in my columns last week.
The subtle reason, though? I want to create more than I consume. Being on Facebook felt like me constantly watching television or, worse, being on television. I am constantly being distracted, being directed this way and that way and being engaged in ways I did not like.
If you are going to bring new insights, then you have to disengage.
How do you say something new if you're continuously talking? How do you create a new thought if you're constantly absorbed with old ones? How do you become a leader if you're not thinking about where we need to be led?
Turning the phone off while you take a walk, sitting quietly for a few moments before you check your morning email or having uninterrupted coffee with a friend all require that you be unreachable. And being unreachable gives you the opportunity to discover something new.
Any sustainable credibility you have comes from showing up every day, all day, for many days. I began coaching after leading two startups, shuttering one and selling the other one, while being the primary caretaker of my first baby, and then writing a best-selling book series that became the foundation for my practice. Before that, I would have nothing to coach.
There is no quick hack.
You have to give yourself permission to go slow. You also need to know why you're doing what you're doing, as excitement, passion and fame won't get you up in the morning. Purpose will.
Allow yourself to be confused in the short term, shut out outside distractions with vigor and give yourself the time to succeed. You don't need anything else.