A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird? – Author Unknown
A couple of weeks ago, the 40th Annual Convention of the National Speakers Association convened in Philadelphia, PA. I attended the meeting, along with 1300-plus other speakers seeking insights into the latest trends and best business practices in the speaking profession. Did you get that? 1300-plus other speakers…!
It is interesting to note that my husband was in Montana while I was in City of Brotherly Love. Suffice it to say, his idea of a good time is being as far away as possible from a hotel full of people who TALK for a living. In fact, Tim finds it hard to believe that I get paid to talk. He would pay me to be QUIET!
As always, the convention gave me lots of food for thought. I could spend a lifetime trying to implement all of the valuable information that was shared there. One of the highlights of this gathering is the closing banquet at which five speakers (unbeknownst to the audience) are inducted into the Hall of Fame, and one worthy individual is awarded a much-coveted award named after the association’s founder. Simply put, it’s our version of the Oscars.
After the evening’s festivities, I bid my speaker buddies goodnight and went back up to my hotel room to pack for an early flight back to Dallas the next morning. The moment I shut the door, I experienced something that had been in short supply…ABSOLUTE SILENCE. After this four day “gab fest” (and I say that with all due respect to my peers!), I paused…and drank it in.
It’s no wonder that the next morning as I perused the newsstand at the airport, a New York Times bestseller by Susan Cain titled QUIET, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking caught my attention.
I’m only about a hundred pages into the book, but I’m absolutely intrigued. Cain has done exhaustive research on this subject, citing notable examples such as Steve Wozniak, Stephen Spielberg, J.K Rowling, and Charles Schulz among others who require absolute solitude so they can do their best work without interruption.
That got me to thinking…
How much time on any given day do I spend in solitude…actively being quiet? Not much, I assure you. “NOT NEARLY ENOUGH,” my husband would absolutely assure you!
Think about it. We live in a world that’s constantly “ON!” Shopping malls, restaurants, airports, offices…even elevators are filled with music that by default has become the background soundtrack of our lives.
This was painfully obvious to me as I sat in the Philly airport waiting for my flight back to Dallas. Flight arrivals and departures were blasting over the intercom. CNN was blaring the latest headlines, competing with the piped-in music that was designed to “enhance” my travel experience! Add to this, the constant chatter of people on their cell phones…? It’s a wonder that I ever actually board an airplane on time amid this combo of chaos.
Calgon…take me away…!
I’ve learned so much about the art of being quiet from my good friend Joan Brock. (Joan seems to be popping up in my blogs a lot these days. See Blog from July 26, 2013). In her book COME TO YOUR SENSES, Joan explains that due to her vision loss at age 32, her other senses had to step up to the plate to help her navigate this new world of blindness…and it was a blessing in disguise. Joan is a great listener.
Early every morning, when she is not out on the road speaking, you’ll find Joan at home in Tucson, sitting on her back patio which faces the Santa Catalina Mountains. With coffee in hand, she sits down…and listens. Joan “sees” the mountains…through her ears. She says, “In our desert environment, at certain times of the year, the brown-crested flycatcher is the first to sing in the morning. Its distinct, musical song has a beautiful rhythm. Before the sun peaks over those mountains this bird seems to be gently awakening its sleeping friends and me to wake up too.” She continues, “Wherever you live, before you take off running, pause in ‘quietude’ for just a little while. Take time to sit quietly and simply listen. It will replenish your soul.”
How do we practice quietude?
W A I T…
As a person who makes a living talking, this challenges me.
By the way, you may have noticed that I didn’t post a blog last Friday as I normally do.
I was busy…being QUIET…