Leadership (and Love) Begin in Silence
— John Quincy Adams quotes (American 6th US President (1825-29), eldest son of John Adams, 2nd US president. 1767-1848)
In business and in life, we have the profound potential to influence other people, leaving in the wake of our life reverberating actions that can forever positively influence others. Call it what you will: Karma, Cause and Effect, What-Goes-Around-Comes-Around, etc. Whether you’re a supermarket bagger, or a Fortune-500 CEO, the fact is that each and every one of us has an impact on the world and other people, to make a huge and lasting difference. And that’s great – because what else is there really, than love? When it comes right down to it, isn’t what really matters most expressing and experiencing love? For me, love starts with leadership, amongst friends, family, and even in work.
I have been thinking a lot about how I can make the most potent, and positive difference, in guiding the company I founded, Samovar. And for some reason, it all keeps coming back to leadership. When someone says leadership, there is the stereotypical visual of George Washington leading his troops, the American flag waving proudly. When running a company there is the need to set a direction, and for the teams/troops to follow that direction. However, what I can say from experience is that leadership is really a far cry from “rallying the troops,” “forging ahead,” “motivating the team,” or any other kind of external coercion. For me leadership doesn’t happen from “outside.” It’s actually much subtler, much more internal and potent when it comes from “inside.” Leadership doesn’t happen with a bunch of hooping and hollering, (although that can be very energizing). Leadership begins with Silence. Leadership begins with being very, very…quiet. Silence makes listening possible. And that is the secret ingredient. With deep listening, then we can follow our instincts, our emotions and our spirits.
Listening first to myself, I ask these questions:
- What do I need?
- What do those around me need?
- What messages are my emotions sending me?
- And what does my spirit say?
On the surface we are essentially all the same: eyes, ears, nose, arms, skin, and blessed with food and shelter and reproduction needs. Where we truly differ and stand apart is in our true Inner Spirit. I have found that if I can learn to embrace silence, to feel my emotions, and to and hear my Spirit, that is when I make the most effective decisions that connect deeply with those around me. If I listen to my team, to my customers, to my vendors, and even to the weather, then I can make the best decisions possible, leading to greater connection. Making a decision means taking a step forward. One step, two steps, three…steps lead to actions, and actions lead to results and results become the reality we receive, potentially surrounded by love. To me, that is true leadership.
As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; the next, the people hate.
— Lao Tse, 604-531 B. C., Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, Tao Te Ching