The current exploration in leadership circles of the notion of the ‘anti-hero’ also coincides with the beauty of a little book by Susan Cain called ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”.
In Amara we work with the three levels of inquiry – 1st, 2nd and 3rd person they don’t require absolute quiet but there is a space for silence even amidst conversation, meetings, our own busyness – 30 seconds checking in with ourselves is quiet, mindfulness in the moment or as Crane Stookey calls it ‘door knob’ mindfulness. Bill Torbert talks about ‘listening into the dark’ – this can mean many things. Listening needs quiet, the dark can be anything – in the night sky it’s the spaces between the stars and the moon – in psychoanalysis it’s the shadow of our being where our secrets lie and a powerful source of our learning.
There’s much talk of the need to live with uncertainty and the ensuing chaos but what if, in our quiet space, we discover we have wisdom and knowing that we could access. How often do we have a feeling about something, an intuition and maybe a strongly held view but we tread carefully in the outside world without offering our ‘knowing’ in its raw and beautiful form.
The practice of inquiry requires quiet in its many forms whether you choose to meditate, run, walk, journal or stand on your head.
The quiet leader is the yin to the heroic yang. Natural leadership or authentic leadership is being true to self, our beliefs and also our ways of knowing. Whether we take in data and opinion from the outside and then process and reflect quietly internally or we do our personal reflection work and then take our insights out into action or inquiry with others – they both require quiet. American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier called it ‘the still, small voice of calm.’
Quiet is peace – we talk of world peace – what of we talked of world quiet?
The Balinese people committed to Nyepi, a national day of silence on March 21st. When George Harrison of the Beatles died his family invited well wishers to one minute of silence around the world on December 2001 at 1.30pm Pacific Coast Time. Just imagine a world that holds its breath for 1 minute every day? What would it cost other than imagination, commitment and the suspense of cynicism?
How would we think about leadership and the power of quiet then?