Will Rogers once said, "Never miss a good chance to shut up."
Silence. It's certainly not the first thing that pops into mind when you think of success, but it's been on my mind this week since I had a case of laryngitis caused by too much air conditioning, of all things.
My forced quietude, while frustrating, has had a positive effect on me personally, however, and, strangely, a salutary influence on my limited personal interactions. I find myself very focused on being succinct and making my words count. Also, I find myself sharply concentrated on listening. It's quite centering. When I do speak I am to the point and responsive to the particularity of my acquaintances and associates. I simply don't have the voice for bullshit.
I will admit to occasional prolixity. It was always hard for me not to throw in the whole kitchen sink when I talked about my wonderful entrepreneurial company. I loved my company. I was passionate about it. But my health coerced stillness reminds me today silence is a necessary and efficacious value in sales, as in life.
Quite aside from my illness this week, I've always found a judicious use of planned silence a help with everything. There are three things I personally try to do each week to create moments of stillness. Simple, but helpful to me. One is I go to church. That one hour of quiet thought and physical non-activity, sans cell phones, children, chatter, etc., is clarifying and revivifying (quite aside from deeper issues of truth and faith). Two is I chant and meditate about 15 minutes every morning. Three is I try to take a half day every week to go to the movies by myself, where I can be alone in the anonymous dark. I try to pick undemanding "B" movies (think American Pie, Jennifer Aniston, Police Academy VI, etc). Sometimes I go right to sleep, but frequently new thoughts come when I let go with no agenda.
Maybe that's all I have for today. But here's an interesting thought about silence from the avant guarde composer John Cage. In his 1961 book "Silence" he says, "There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot."