Leaders, are you happy with your level of success? If not, let me ask you what may seem like an odd question. How long can you ride in a car with no conversation, radio, cell phone, or some form of communication? For me, it’s not that long.
People are simply uncomfortable while in silence. We don’t know what to handle quiet but it is critical to our success as a leader.
Solitude is our friend. In Richard Foster’s classic Celebration of Discipline, he gives us keen insights on the productive nature of solitude. Note how these lessons if applied can change how we lead.
- Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.
- “One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Without silence there is no solitude. Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening.
- The purpose of silence and solitude is to be able to see and hear. Control rather than no noise is the key to silence.
- “It is easier to be silent altogether than to speak with moderation.” – Thomas Kempis
- The disciplined person is the person who can do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
- One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless.
- The tongue is our most powerful weapon of manipulation. A frantic stream of words flows from us because we are in a constant process of adjusting our public image.
- Perhaps more than anything else, silence brings us to believe that God can care for us – reputation and all.
- “Real silence, real stillness, really holding one’s tongue comes only as the sober consequence of spiritual stillness.” – Bonhoeffer
- Take advantage of the “little solitudes” that fill our day – early mornings in bed before the family awakens, morning coffee before the work day, bumper-to-bumper traffic, etc…
- Experiment with doing deeds without any words of explanation whatsoever.
- Do you speak only when you have something to say?
- Take 3-4 times annually to withdraw, think, and simply reevaluate your goals. Stretch mentally.
- Know that goals are discovered, not made.
- The fruit of solitude is increased sensitivity and compassion for others.
- “It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers.” – Thomas Merton
- “Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.” – Merton
Leaders, how often do you seek solitude? The older I get, the more I realize how critical it is to my development as well as my ability to serve my team.
Try working in an hour of solitude tomorrow and report back on what you experience.
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