Enjoy the silence

High school years for me were pretty socially awkward.  I had a rather shy personality as a youth and tended to keep few friends and no’t talk very much.  Most people during those years didn’t understand that I was going through some real deep and challenging internal struggles.  I was raised in the church and from the time I was four years old through till my graduation from high school I attended a parochial school.  One of the things that I learned about myself from a very young age is I was never going to be the type of person that simply accepted beliefs and ideals because I was told that these were the things I should believe.  I learned to question, I learned to do my own investigation, and thus learned to follow my own path.  Because of this, I often felt like an soul isolated from the collective in high school because most were just followers.  While I gravitated toward a select few , the turmoil I was dealing with stayed within and made me feel very alone at times.  I always thought that this was a bad thing but that changed around my junior year of high school.

I had a favorite teacher growing up that had a few catchphrases that he would use over and over again.  He always fascinated me with his nature because he was fearless in his methods.  He was never afraid to go against the grain and tell it exactly how he saw it.  There was one phrase that he used often that has lingered in my mind all of these years.  Over the years it always seemed like the simple words would float into my mind at directly the time I needed to hear it and it would direct me in that moment.  It was the most basic set of words that have ultimately impacted me the most in my life.

“It is better to be silent and be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  The words once used by president Abraham Lincoln.  Day in and day out, we heard this phrase recited to us in a classroom.  Seemingly the repetition has proved to be a great educational tool.  I’ve spent the better part of twenty years reflecting on and dissecting this phrase.  Ultimately it has led me to three distinct principles that I try my best to put into practice every day:

1. Be a man of few words but make each one count.

2. The skill of listening is just as important than the skill of speaking.

3.  Take some time every day to appreciate the moments of silence and serenity.

Through my years I’ve always noticed that a lot of the people that were always considered popular or had the most friends were the ones that spoke the most.  People naturally gravitate to someone who speaks up and tend to translate it to a sign of charisma.  However, I’ve also some to analyze that a large portion of those people really weren’t charismatic as all, because they really didn’t have anything to say.  They were people of many words, not people of valuable words.  Moreover, for a large chunk of these people, I came to find that it would only be a matter of time before they ultimately stuck their proverbial foot in their mouth.  With every word we say, we leave a stamp on someone.  Such is the nature of communication.  The recipient of our words will accumulate gains and losses from our words and add the net impact to our credibility.  Likewise, we can make additions by utilizing few words but asserting credible actions.  A person who speaks of accomplishment is only believable if they are actually accomplishing.  It should be the words that are used to accessorize what we have done, and not the other way around.

Many that know me have come to learn that upon meeting new people I tend to be very quiet.  One skill I find paramount to being successful is learning how listen and assess.  In order to truly be able to get a person to listen to us, we must also be willing to give ear to their words.  It’s a delicate act of balance.  More importantly, value has to be associated with their words.  That’s not to say that words can’t have negative value, but we have to be open-minded enough to appreciate an opinion even when not our own.  Without that respect, a real exchange that enriches both parties is not likely.

The last principle is one that I have to keep myself focused on every day.  Unfortunately we tend to go through times where we are exceptional strained for time and the most important principles fall out of our minds.  One of the keys to my day has been to start it with a period of quiet reflection.  For me, this is wrapped up in a morning walk I take everyday.  The peace and quiet serves as my time to reflect on the things that I want to accomplish today and to begin the analysis on the pitfalls I might face for the day.  I’m a believer that accomplishment falls within the intersection of focus and expertise.  A person may know how to do something, but it’s the will and precision care taken to apply knowledge that ultimately gets the job done.  Focus is about cleaning the closet of all the cluttered items that may not be critical and compiling the ones that are necessity.  It’s all about the mental plan before the physical application.

Many consider the value of words, but not enough understand the value that silence holds.  Whether through the ability to immerse ourselves in a quiet place or the aptitude to maintain our own controlled quiet, there is an appreciation for the art of reflection.  Find new ways to gain joy out of the practice of thought, serenity, and silence every day.

~ by bfmooz on June 11, 2011.

2 Responses to “Enjoy the silence”

  1. Thanks for sharing moose. This could be a series of posts, and then we can have a conversation about each. What do you think?

    • Agreed completely. It’s a very “spidering” topic. It really dives into the fabric that people are composed of and the related characteristics that make up each thread. It would interesting to dig deeper and dissect the differences and commonality that exists in the ways people approach the “act” of reservation. The series shall continue.

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