Shhh...How About a Little Quiet Time?
When things were getting a little harried, Mom said it best . . . "I think we need a little quiet time." Mom's advice is true for leaders (and all professionals) too - now more than ever.
I often say that our world is very different than it once was. And when I do people often shake their heads knowingly – I suppose that statement conjures a variety of ideas based on how old they are and from what vantage point they compare today with the past.
As our world continues to change, I believe there are some things getting lost that need to be re-found. The good news is many of these things can be re-discovered, and we have that power completely in our hands.
One thing we are losing is quiet.
We don't make room for quiet in our lives. When we are in the car, the radio is on. When we are walking or riding a bike or mowing our lawns or waiting for an airplane (add your own favorite activity here), we are listening to an iPod or something similar. When we are at home, or in many public places, the television is on. When we are working, the sound is turned up on our computers so we can hear the funny email, podcast, audio message from the CEO, or radio program on the Web.
These are all intentional activities and none of them include the ambient noise of traffic, other people and so much more.
And while we have all this noise around us, instinctively we know that quiet is a good thing.
We value the pause when a speaker gives us a chance to soak in his or her points. We enjoy the brief respite of quiet from a noisy conference. We enjoy a retreat to a quiet park or forest. While we know quiet is valuable and useful, we don’t always take advantage of that knowledge – we don’t choose quiet often enough.
However, in order for us to choose quiet, we must first choose some other things. We must choose to slow down. We must choose to stop multi-tasking. We must choose to be introspective. We must choose to spend time by ourselves. And all of these choices come before the choice for quiet – they are required prerequisites.
Think about it, how much time do you spend in quiet each day? While I haven't done a formal survey, I'll bet for the typical person, it is time measured in minutes – not even closely approaching an hour.
Ways to Use Our Quiet
Once you’ve made the choice to turn off the TV or radio, to take the earphones out of your ears, or to (gasp!) not fill that last open hour on your calendar with one more meeting, you’ve got to choose how to use your quiet time.
Rather than prescribing a specific thing you should do with that time, let me suggest a smorgasbord of ideas for you to consider. As you read the menu, pick the one or two you feel most drawn to, and start with those.
Do stretching exercises.
Clear your mind.
Review your goals and your progress towards them.
Visualize reaching your biggest goal.
Think about your day – reflect on the happenings and the lessons that can be learned.
Mentally preview tomorrow – planning and visualizing great success.
Review material from a book or training session.
Practice deep breathing.
Think of creative solutions to a challenge or problem you are facing.
Count your blessings.
Recall pleasant memories.
In school our teachers said “Shhh” when they wanted us to be quiet and pay attention. I encourage you to tell yourself “Shhh” – to make time for quiet, to give yourself a chance to focus, to connect and to reflect.
It’s time for me to be quiet and to give you a chance to do the same.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.